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The Cumberland Road 



With Maps and Illustrations 

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VII. CONCLUSION . . . . -174 

1 3*7079 


I. BRIDGE AT "Bio CROSSINGS " Frontispiece 




WEST -79 


ROAD IN OHIO . . . .177 


FOR material used in this volume the 
author is largely in the debt of the 
librarians of the State Libraries of 
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, 
and Illinois. From the Honorable C. B. 
Galbreath, of the Ohio State Library, he 
has received much assistance covering an 
extended period. To the late Thomas B. 
Searight s valuable collection of biograph 
ical and colloquial sketches, The Old Pike, 
the author wishes to express his great 
indebtedness. As Mr. Searight gave special 
attention to the road in Pennsylvania, the 
present monograph deals at large with the 
story of the road west of the Ohio River, 
especially in the state of Ohio. 

The Cumberland Road was best known 
in some parts as the United States or 
"National" Road. Its legal name has 
been selected as the most appropriate for 
the present monograph which is revised 


from a study of the subject The Old National 
Road formerly published by the Ohio State 
Archaeological and Historical Society. 

A. B. H. 
MARIETTA, OHIO, May 15, 1903. 

The Cumberland Road 

// is a monument of a past age ; but like all other 
monuments, it is interesting as well as venerable. It 
carried thousands of population and millions of wealth 
into the West ; and more than any other material 
structure in the land, served to harmonize aud 
strengthen, if not to save, the Union. VEECH. 



*" The middle ages had their wars and agonies, but 
also their intense delights. Their gold was dashed 
with blood, but ours is sprinkled with dust. Their 
life was intermingled with white and purple ; ours is 
one seamless stuff of brown. RUSKIN. 

A PERSON cannot live in the Ameri 
can Central West and be acquainted 
with the generation which greets the 
new century with feeble hand and dimmed 
eye, without realizing that there has been a 
time which, compared with today, seems 
as the Middle Ages did to the England for 
which Ruskin wrote when life was 
intermingled with white and purple." 

This western boy, born to a feeble repub 
lic-mother, with exceeding suffering in 
those days which " tried men s souls," 
grew up as all boys grow up. For a long 
and doubtful period the young West grew 
slowly and changed appearance gradually. 
Then, suddenly, it started from its slum- 


bering, and, in two decades, could hardly 
have been recognized as the infant which, 
in 1787, looked forward to a precarious and 
doubtful future. The boy has grown into 
the man in the century, but the changes of 
the last half century are not, perhaps, so 
marked as those of the first, when a wilder 
ness was suddenly transformed into a num 
ber of imperial commonwealths. 

When this West was in its teens and 
began suddenly outstripping itself, to the 
marvel of the world, one of the momentous 
factors in its progress was the building of 
a great national road, from the Potomac 
River to the Mississippi River, by the 
United States Government a highway 
seven hundred miles in length, at a cost of 
seven millions of treasure. This ribbon of 
road, winding its way through Maryland, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, 
toward the Mississippi, was one of the 
most important steps in that movement of 
national expansion which followed the 
conquest of the West. It is probably 
impossible for us to realize fully what it 
meant to this West when that vanguard of 
surveyors came down the western slopes of 


the Alleghenies, hewing a thoroughfare 
which should, in one generation, bind dis 
tant and half-acquainted states together in 
bonds of common interest, sympathy, and 
ambition. Until that day, travelers spoke 
of " going into " and " coming out of " the 
West as though it were a Mammoth Cave. 
Such were the herculean difficulties of 
travel that it was commonly said, despite 
the dangers of life in the unconquered land, 
if pioneers could live to get into the West, 
nothing could, thereafter, daunt them. 
The growth and prosperity of the West 
was impossible, until the dawning of such 
convictions as those which made the Cum 
berland Road a reality. 

The history of this famed road is but a 
continuation of the story of the Washington 
and Braddock roads, through Great Mead 
ows from the Potomac to the Ohio. As 
outlined in Volumes III and IV of this 
series, this national highway was the 
realization of the youth Washington s early 
dream a dream that was, throughout his 
life, a dominant force. 

But Braddock s Road was for three score 
years the only route westward through 


southwestern Pennsylvania, and it grew 
worse and worse with each year s travel. 
Indeed, the more northerly route, marked 
out in part by General Forbes in 1758, was 
plainly the preferable road for travelers to 
Pittsburg until the building of the Cumber 
land Road, 1811-1818. 

The rapid peopling of the state of Ohio, 
and the promise of an equal development 
in Indiana and Illinois caused the building 
of our first and only great national road. 
Congress passed an act on the thirtieth of 
April, 1802, enabling the people of Ohio to 
form a state government and seek admission 
into the Union. Section seven contained 
the following provision : 

" That one-twentieth of the net proceeds 
of the lands lying within said State sold 
by Congress shall be applied to the laying 
out and making public roads leading from 
the navigable waters emptying into the 
Atlantic, to the Ohio, to the said state, and 
through the same, such roads to be laid 
out under the authority of Congress, with 
the consent of the several states through 
which the roads shall pass. J 

1 United States Statutes at Large, vol. ii, p. 173 . 


On the third of March, 1803 another act 
was passed which appropriated three of the 
five per cent to laying out roads in the state 
of Ohio, the remaining two per cent to be 
devoted to building a road from navigable 
waters leading into the Atlantic Ocean, to 
the Ohio River contiguous to the state of 
Ohio. A committee was appointed to 
review the matter and the conclusion of 
their report to the Senate on the nineteenth 
of December, 1805 was as follows: 

" Therefore the committee have thought 
it expedient to recommend the laying out 
and making a road from Cumberland, on 
the northerly bank of the Potomac, and 
within the state of Maryland, to the Ohio 
river, at the most convenient place on the 
easterly bank of said river, opposite to 
Steubenville, and the mouth of Grave 
Creek, which empties into said river, Ohio, 
a little below Wheeling in Virginia, This 
route will meet and accommodate roads 
from Baltimore and the District of Colum 
bia; it will cross the Monongahela at or 
near Brownsville, sometimes called Red 
stone, where the advantage of boating can 
be taken ; and from the point where it will 


probably intersect the river Ohio, there are 
now roads, or they can easily be made over 
feasible and proper ground, to and through 
the principal population of the state of 
Ohio." 2 

Immediately the following act of Con 
gress was passed, authorizing the laying 
out and making of the Cumberland Road: 


SECTION i. Be it enacted by the Senate 
and House of Representatives of the United 
States of A merica in Congress assembled. That 
the President of the United States be, and 
he is hereby authorized to appoint, by and 
with the advice and consent of the Senate, 
three discreet and disinterested citizens of 
the United States, to lay out a road from 
Cumberland, or a point on the northern 
bank of the river Potomac, in the state of 
Maryland, between Cumberland and the 
place where the main road leading from 
Gwynn s to Winchester, in Virginia, crosses 

" Senate Reports, gth Cong., istSess., Rep. No. 195. 


the river, to the state of Ohio ; whose duty 
it shall be, as soon as may be, after their 
appointment, to repair to Cumberland afore 
said, and view the ground, from the points 
on the river Potomac hereinbefore desig 
nated to the river Ohio ; and to lay out in 
such direction as they shall judge, under 
all circumstances the most proper, a road 
from thence to the river Ohio, to strike the 
same at the most convenient place, between 
a point on its eastern bank, opposite to the 
northern boundary of Steubenville, in said 
state of Ohio, and the mouth of Grave 
Creek, which empties into the said river a 
little below Wheeling, in Virginia. 

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That 
the aforesaid road shall be laid out four 
rods in width, and designated on each side 
by a plain and distinguishable mark on a 
tree, or by the erection of a stake or monu 
ment sufficiently conspicuous, in every 
quarter of a mile of the distance at least, 
where the road pursues a straight course so 
far or further, and on each side, at every 
point where an angle occurs in its course. 

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That 
the commissioners shall, as soon as may be, 


after they have laid out said road, as afore 
said, present to the President an accurate 
plan of the same, with its several courses 
and distances, accompanied by a written 
report of their proceedings, describing the 
marks and monuments by which the road 
is designated, and the face of the country 
over which it passes, and pointing out the 
particular parts which they shall judge re 
quire the most and immediate attention and 
amelioration, and the probable expense of 
making the same possible in the most dim- 
cult parts, and through the whole distance ; 
designating the state or states through 
which said road has been laid out, and the 
length of the several parts which are laid 
out on new ground, as well as the length 
of those parts laid out on the road now 
traveled. Which report the President is 
hereby authorized to accept or reject, in the 
whole or in part. If he accepts, he is here 
by further authorized and requested to pur 
sue such measures, as in his opinion shall 
be proper, to obtain consent for making the 
road, of the state or states through which 
the same has been laid out. Which con 
sent being obtained, he is further authorized 


to take prompt and effectual measures to 
cause said road to be made through the 
whole distance, or in any part or parts of 
the same as he shall judge most conducive 
to the public good, having reference to the 
sum appropriated for the purpose. 

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That 
all parts of the road which the President 
shall direct to be made, in case the trees 
are standing, shall be cleared the whole 
width of four rods ; and the road shall be 
raised in the middle of the carriage-way 
with stone, earth, or gravel or sand, or a 
combination of some or all of them, leaving 
or making, as the case may be, a ditch or 
water course on each side and contiguous 
to said carriage-way, and in no instance 
shall there be an elevation in said road, 
when finished, greater than an angle of 
five degrees with the horizon. But the 
manner of making said road, in every 
other particular, is left to the direction of 
the President. 

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That 
said commissioners shall each receive four 
dollars per day, while employed as afore 
said, in full for their compensation, includ- 


ing all expenses. And they are hereby 
authorized to employ one surveyor, two 
chainmen and one marker, for whose faith 
fulness and accuracy they, the said com 
missioners, shall be responsible, to attend 
them in laying out said road, who shall 
receive in full satisfaction for their wages, 
including all expenses, the surveyor, three 
dollars per day, and each chainman and 
marker, one dollar per day, while they shall 
be employed in said business, of which 
fact a certificate signed by said commission 
ers shall be deemed sufficient evidence. 

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That 
the sum of thirty thousand dollars be, and 
the same is hereby appropriated, to defray 
the expenses of laying out and making said 
road. And the President is hereby author 
ized to draw, from time to time, on the 
treasury for such parts, or at any one time, 
for the whole of said sum, as he shall judge 
the service requires. Which sum of thirty 
thousand dollars shall be paid, first, out of 
the fund of two per cent reserved for laying 
out and making roads to the state of Ohio, 
and by virtue of the seventh section of an 
act t passed on the thirtieth day of April, 


one thousand eight hundred and two, en 
titled, " An act to enable the people of the 
eastern division of the territory northwest 
of the river Ohio to form a constitution 
and state government, and for the admis 
sion of such state into the Union on an 
equal footing with the original states, and 
for other purposes. Three per cent of the 
appropriation contained in said seventh sec 
tion being directed by a subsequent law to 
the laying out, opening, and making roads 
within the said state of Ohio ; and secondly, 
out of any money in the treasury not other 
wise appropriated, chargeable upon, and 
reimbursable at the treasury by said fund 
of two per cent as the same shall accrue. 

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That 
the President be, and he is hereby requested, 
to cause to be laid before Congress, as soon 
as convenience will permit, after the com 
mencement of each session, a statement of 
the proceedings under this act, that Con 
gress may be enabled to adopt such further 
measures as may from time to time be 
proper under existing circumstances. 

Approved March 29, 1806. 



President Jefferson appointed Thomas 
Moore of Maryland, Joseph Kerr of Ohio, 
and Eli Williams of Maryland commis 
sioners. Their first report was presented 
December 30, 1806, as follows: 

" The commissioners, acting by appoint 
ment under the law of Congress, entitled, 
1 An act to regulate the laying out and 
making a road from Cumberland in the 
State of Maryland, to the State of Ohio, 
beg leave to report to the President of the 
United States, and to premise that the 
duties imposed by the law became a work 
of greater magnitude, and a task much 
more arduous, than was conceived before 
entering upon it ; from which circumstance 
the commissioners did not allow themselves 
sufficient time for the performance of it 
before the severity of the weather obliged 
them to retire from it, which was the case 
in the first week of the present month 
(December). That, not having fully accom 
plished their work, they are unable fully 
to report a discharge of all the duties 
enjoined by the law; but as the most mate 
rial and principal part has been performed, 
and as a communication of the progress 


already made may be useful and proper, 
during the present session of Congress, and 
of the Legislatures of those States through 
which the route passes, the commissioners 
respectfully state that at a very early period 
it was conceived that the maps of the coun 
try were not sufficiently accurate to afford 
a minute knowledge of the true courses 
between the extreme points on the rivers, 
by which the researches of the commis 
sioners were to be governed ; a survey for 
that purpose became indispensable, and 
considerations of public economy suggested 
the propriety of making this survey precede 
the personal attendance of the commis 

" Josias Thompson, a surveyor of profes 
sional merit, was taken into service and 
authorized to employ two chain carriers 
and a marker, as well as one vaneman, and 
a packhorse-man and horse, on public 
account ; the latter being indispensable and 
really beneficial in accelerating the work. 
The surveyor s instructions are contained 
in document No. i, accompanying this 

" Calculating on a reasonable time for 


the performance of the instructions to the 
surveyor, the commissioners, by correspon 
dence, fixed on the first day of September 
last, for their meeting at Cumberland to 
proceed in the work; neither of them, 
however, reached that place until the third 
of that month, on which day they all met. 
" The surveyor having, under his instruc 
tions, laid down a plat of his work, showing 
the meanders of the Potomac and Ohio 
rivers, within the limits prescribed for the 
commissioners, as also the road between 
those rivers, which is commonly traveled 
from Cumberland to Charleston, in part 
called Braddock s road; and the same being 
produced to the commissioners, whereby 
straight lines and their true courses were 
shown between the extreme points on each 
river, and the boundaries which limit the 
powers of the commissioners being thereby 
ascertained, serving as a basis whereon to 
proceed in the examination of the grounds 
and face of the country ; the commissioners 
thus prepared commenced the business of 
exploring; and in this it was considered 
that a faithful discharge of the discretionary 
powers vested by the law made it necessary 


to view the whole to be able to judge of a 
preference due to any part of the grounds, 
which imposed a task of examining a space 
comprehending upwards of two thousand 
square miles; a task rendered still more 
incumbent by the solicitude and importuni 
ties of the inhabitants of every part of the 
district, who severally conceived their 
grounds entitled to a preference. It 
becoming necessary, in the interim, to run 
various lines of experiment for ascertaining 
the geographical position of several points 
entitled to attention, and the service suffer 
ing great delay for want of another sur 
veyor, it was thought consistent with the 
public interest to employ, in that capacity, 
Arthur Rider, the vaneman, who had been 
chosen with qualification to meet such an 
emergency ; and whose services as vaneman 
could then be dispensed with. He com 
menced, as surveyor, on the 22nd day of 
September, and continued so at field work 
until the first day of December, when he 
was retained as a necessary assistant to the 
principal surveyor, in copying field notes 
and hastening the draught of the work to 
be reported. 


" The proceedings of the commissioners 
are especially detailed in their general 
journal, compiled from the daily journal 
of each commissioner, to which they beg 
leave to refer, under mark No. 2. 

After a careful and critical examination 
of all the grounds within the limits pre 
scribed, as well as the grounds and ways 
out from the Ohio westwardly, at several 
points, and examining the shoal parts of 
the Ohio river as detailed in the table of 
soundings, stated in their journal, and after 
gaining all the information, geographical, 
general and special, possible and necessary, 
toward a judicial discharge of the duties 
assigned them, the commissioners repaired 
to Cumberland to examine and compare 
their notes and journals, and determine 
upon the direction and location of their 

11 In this consultation the governing 
objects were: 

1 . Shortness of distance between navi 
gable points on the eastern and western 

2. A point on the Monongahela best 
calculated to equalize the advantages of 



this portage in the country within reach 
of it. 

3. A point on the Ohio river most cap 
able of combining certainty of navigation 
with road accommodation; embracing, in 
this estimate, remote points westwardly, 
as well as present and probable population 
on the north and south. 

4. Best mode of diffusing benefits with 
least distance of road. 

" In contemplating these objects, due 
attention was paid as well to the compara 
tive merits of towns, establishments and 
settlements already made, as to the capac 
ity of the country with the present and 
probable population. 

" In the course of arrangement, and in 
its order, the first point located for the 
route was determined and fixed at Cumber 
land, a decision founded on propriety, and 
in some measure on necessity, from the 
circumstance of a high and difficult moun 
tain, called Nobley, laying and confining 
the east margin of the Potomac, so as to 
render it impossible of access on that side 
without immense expense, at any point 
between Cumberland and where the road 


from Winchester to Gwynn s crosses, and 
even there the Nobley mountain is crossed 
with much difficulty and hazard. And this 
upper point was taxed with another formid 
able objection; it was found that a high 
range of mountains, called Dan s, stretch 
ing across from Gwynn s to the Potomac, 
above this point, precluded the opportunity 
of extending a route from this point in a 
proper direction, and left no alternative but 
passing by Gwynn s; the distance from 
Cumberland to Gwynn s being upward of a 
mile less than from the upper point, which 
lies ten miles by water above Cumberland, 
the commissioners were not permitted to 
hesitate in preferring a point which short 
ens the portage, as well as the Potomac 

" The point of the Potomac being viewed 
as a great repository of produce, which a 
good road will bring from the west of 
Laurel Hill, and the advantages which 
Cumberland, as a town, has in that respect 
over an unimproved place, are additional 
considerations operating forcibly in favor 
of the place preferred. 

" In extending the route from Cumber- 


land, a triple range of mountains, stretch 
ing across from Jening s run in measure 
with Gwynn s, left only the alternative of 
laying the road up Will s creek for three 
miles, nearly at right angles with the true 
course, and then by way of Jening s run, 
or extending it over a break in the smallest 
mountain, on a better course by Gwynn s, 
to the top of Savage mountain ; the latter 
was adopted, being the shortest, and will 
be less expensive in hill-side digging over 
a sloped route than the former, requiring 
one bridge over Will s creek and several 
over Jening s run, both very wide and con 
siderable streams in high water; and a 
more weighty reason for preferring the 
route by Gwynn s is the great accommoda 
tion it will afford travelers from Winchester 
by the upper point, who could not reach 
the route by Jening s run short of the top 
of Savage, which would withhold from 
them the benefit of an easy way up the 

lt It is, however, supposed that those who 
travel from Winchester by way of the upper 
point to Gwynn s, are in that respect more 
the dupes of common prejudice than judges 


of their own ease, as it is believed the way 
will be as short, and on much better 
ground, to cross the Potomac below the con 
fluence of the north and south branches 
(thereby crossing these two, as well as Pat 
terson s creek, in one stream, equally ford- 
able in the same season), than to pass 
through Cumberland to Gwynn s. Of these 
grounds, however, the commissioners do 
not speak from actual view, but consider it 
a subject well worthy of future investiga 
tion. Having gained the top of Alleghany 
mountain, or rather the top of that part 
called Savage, by way of Gwynn s, the 
general route, as it respects the most impor 
tant points, was determined as follows, viz : 
" From a stone at the corner of lot No. 
i, in Cumberland, near the confluence of 
Will s creek and the north branch of the 
Potomac river; thence extending along the 
street westwardly, to cross the hill lying 
between Cumberland and Gwynn s, at the 
gap where Braddock sroad passes it; thence 
near Gwynn s and Jesse Tomlinson s, to 
cross the big Youghiogheny near the mouth 
of Roger s run, between the crossing of 
Braddock s road and the confluence of the 


streams which form the Turkey foot; 
thence to cross Laurel Hill near the forks 
of Dunbar s run, to the west foot of that 
hill, at a point near where Braddock s old 
road reached it, near Gist s old place, now 
Colonel Isaac Meason s, thence through 
Brownsville and Bridgeport, to cross the 
Monongahela river below Josias Crawfords 
ferry; and thence on as straight a course 
as the country will admit to the Ohio, 
at a point between the mouth of Wheel 
ing creek and the lower point of Wheeling 

1 In this direction of the route it will lay 
about twenty-four and a half miles in Mary 
land, seventy-five miles and a half in 
Pennsylvania, and twelve miles in Virginia; 
distances which will be in a small degree 
increased by meanders, which the bed of 
the road must necessarily make between 
the points mentioned in the location ; and 
this route, it is believed, comprehends more 
important advantages than could be afforded 
in any other, inasmuch as it has a capacity 
at least equal to any other in extending 
advantages of a highway; and at the same 
time establishes the shortest portage 


between the points already navigated, and 
on the way accommodates other and nearer 
points to which navigation may be ex 
tended, and still shorten the portage. 

" It intersects Big Youghiogheny at the 
nearest point from Cumberland, then lies 
nearly parallel with that river for the dis 
tance of twenty miles, and at the west foot 
of Laurel Hill lies within five miles of 
Connellsville, from which the Youghio 
gheny is navigated ; and in the same 
direction the route intersects at Brownsville, 
the nearest point on the Monongahela river 
within the district. 

The improvement of the Youghiogheny 
navigation is a subject of too much impor 
tance to remain long neglected; and the 
capacity of that river, as high up as the falls 
(twelve miles above Connellsville), is said 
to be equal, at a small expense, with the 
parts already navigated below. The 
obstructions at the falls, and a rocky rapid 
near Turkey Foot, constitute the principal 
impediments in that river to the intersec 
tion of the route, and as much higher as 
the stream has a capacity for navigation ; 
and these difficulties will doubtless be 


removed when the intercourse shall war 
rant the measure. 

1 Under these circumstances the portage 
may be thus stated : From Cumberland to 
Monongahela, sixty-six and one-half miles. 
From Cumberland to a point in measure 
with Connellsville, on the Youghiogheny 
river, fifty-one and one-half miles. From 
Cumberland to a point in measure with the 
lower end of the falls of Youghiogheny, 
which will lie two miles north of the public 
road, forty-three miles. From Cumberland 
to the intersection of the route with the 
Youghiogheny river, thirty-f6ur miles. 

" Nothing is here said of the Little 
Youghiogheny, which lies nearer Cumber 
land; the stream being unusually crooked, 
its navigation can only become the work of 
a redundant population. 

" The point which this route locates, at 
the west foot of Laurel Hill, having cleared 
the whole of the Alleghany mountain, is so 
situated as to extend the advantages of an 
easy way through the great barrier, with 
more equal justice to the best parts of the 
country between Laurel Hill and the Ohio. 
Lines from this point to Pittsburg and 


Morgantown, diverging nearly at the same 
angle, open upon equal terms to all parts of 
the western country that can make use of 
this portage; and which may include the 
settlements from Pittsburg, up Big Beaver 
to the Connecticut reserve, on Lake Erie, 
as well as those on the southern borders of 
the Ohio and all the intermediate country. 

" Brownsville is nearly equidistant from 
Big Beaver and Fishing creek, and equally 
convenient to all the crossing places on the 
Ohio, between these extremes. As a port, 
it is at least equal to any on the Mononga- 
hela within the limits, and holds superior 
advantages in furnishing supplies to emi 
grants, traders, and other travelers by land 
or water. 

" Not unmindful of the claims of towns 
and their capacity of reciprocating advan 
tages on public roads, the commissioners 
were not insensible of the disadvantage 
which Uniontown must feel from the want 
of that accommodation which a more south 
wardly direction of the route would have 
afforded ; but as that could not take place 
without a relinquishment of the shortest 
passage, considerations of public benefit 


could not yield to feelings of minor import. 
Uniontown being the seat of justice for 
Fayette county, Pennsylvania, is not with- 
out a share of public benefits, and may 
partake of the advantages of this portage 
upon equal terms with Connellsville, a 
growing town, with the advantage of 
respectable water-works adjoining, in the 
manufactory of flour and iron. 

" After reaching the nearest navigation 
on the western waters, at a point best cal 
culated to diffuse the benefits of a great 
highway, in the greatest possible latitude 
east of the Ohio, it was considered that, to 
fulfill the objects of the law, it remained 
for the commissioners to give such a direc 
tion to the road as would best secure a 
certainty of navigation on the Ohio at all 
seasons, combining, as far as possible, the 
inland accommodation of remote points 
westwardly. It was found that the obstruc 
tions in the Ohio, within the limits between 
Steubenville and Grave creek, lay princi 
pally above the town and mouth of Wheel 
ing; a circumstance ascertained by the 
commissioners in their examination of the 
channel, as well as by common usage, 


which has long given a decided preference 
to Wheeling as a place of embarkation and 
port of departure in dry seasons. It was 
also seen that Wheeling lay in a line from 
Brownsville to the centre of the state of 
Ohio and Post Vincennes. These circum 
stances favoring and corresponding with 
the chief objects in view in this last direc 
tion of the route, and the ground from 
Wheeling westwardly being known of equal 
fitness with any other way out from the 
river, it was thought most proper, under 
these several considerations, to locate the 
point mentioned below the mouth of 
Wheeling. In taking this point in prefer 
ence to one higher up and in the town of 
Wheeling, the public benefit and conveni 
ence were consulted, inasmuch as the pres 
ent crossing place over the Ohio from the 
town is so contrived and confined as to 
subject passengers to extraordinary ferriage 
and delay, by entering and clearing a 
ferry-boat on each side of Wheeling island, 
which lies before the town and precludes 
the opportunity of fording when the river 
is crossed in that way, above and below the 
island. From the point located, a safe 


crossing is afforded at the lower point of 
the island by a ferry in high, and a good 
ford at low water. 

" The face of the country within the 
limits prescribed is generally very uneven, 
and in many places broken by a succession 
of high mountains and deep hollows, too 
formidable to be reduced within five degrees 
of the horizon, but by crossing them 
obliquely, a mode which, although it im 
poses a heavy task of hill-side digging, 
obviates generally the necessity of reducing 
hills and filling hollows, which, on these 
grounds, would be an attempt truly quix 
otic. This inequality of the surface is not 
confined to the Alleghany mountain; the 
country between the Monongahela and Ohio 
rivers, although less elevated, is not better 
adapted for the bed of a road, being filled 
with impediments of hills and hollows, 
which present considerable difficulties, and 
wants that super-abundance and conveni 
ence of stone found in the mountain. 

" The indirect course of the road now 
traveled, and the frequent elevations and 
depressions which occur, that exceed the 
limits of the law, preclude the possibility 


of occupying it in any extent without great 
sacrifice of distance, and forbid the use of it, 
in any one part for more than half a mile, or 
more than two or three miles in the whole. 

" The expense of rendering the road now 
in contemplation passable, may, therefore, 
amount to a larger sum than may have 
been supposed necessary, under an idea of 
embracing in it a considerable part of the 
old road ; but it is believed that the contrary 
will be found most correct, and that a sum 
sufficient to open the new could not be 
expended on the same distance of the old 
road with equal benefit. 

" The sum required for the road in con 
templation will depend on the style and 
manner of making it; as a common road 
cannot remove the difficulties which always 
exist on deep grounds, and particularly in 
wet seasons, and as nothing short of a firm, 
substantial, well-formed, stone-capped road 
can remove the causes which led to the 
measure of improvement, or render the 
institution as commodious as a great and 
growing intercourse appears to require, the 
expense of such a road next becomes the 
vsubject of inquiry. 


" In this inquiry the commissioners can 
only form an estimate by recurring to the 
experience of Pennsylvania and Maryland 
in the business of artificial roads. Upon 
this data, and a comparison of the grounds 
and proximity of the materials for covering, 
there are reasons for belief that, on the 
route reported, a complete road may be 
made at an expense not exceeding six thou 
sand dollars per mile, exclusive of bridges 
over the principal streams on the way. 
The average expense of the Lancaster, as 
well as Baltimore and Frederick turnpike, 
is considerably higher; but it is believed 
that the convenient supply of stone which 
the mountain affords will, on those grounds, 
reduce the expense to the rate here stated. 

"As to .the policy of incurring this 
expense, it is not the province of the com 
missioners to declare; but they cannot, 
however, withhold assurances of a firm 
belief that the purse of the nation cannot be 
more seasonably opened, or more happily 
applied, than in promoting the speedy and 
effectual establishment of a great and easy 
road on the way contemplated. 

" In the discharge of all these duties, the 


commissioners have been actuated by an 
ardent desire to render the institution as 
useful and commodious as possible; and, 
impressed with a strong sense of the neces 
sity which urges the speedy establishment 
of the road, they have to regret the circum 
stances which delay the completion of the 
part assigned them. They, however, in 
some measure, content themselves with the 
reflection that it will not retard the progress 
of the work, as the opening of the road 
cannot commence before spring, and may 
then begin with making the way. 

" The extra expense incident to the 
service from the necessity (and propriety, 
as it relates to public economy,) of employ 
ing men not provided for by law will, it is 
hoped, be recognized and provision made 
for the payment of that and similar 
expenses, when in future it may be indis 
pensably incurred. 

" The commissioners having engaged in 
a service in which their zeal did not permit 
them to calculate the difference between 
their pay and the expense to which the 
service subjected them, cannot suppose it 
the wish or intention of the government to 


accept of their services for a mere indemni 
fication of their expense of subsistence, 
which will be very much the case under the 
present allowance; they, therefore, allow 
themselves to hope and expect that meas 
ures will be taken to provide such further 
compensation as may, under all circum 
stances, be thought neither profuse nor 

11 The painful anxiety manifested by the 
inhabitants of the district explored, and 
their general desire to know the route 
determined on, suggested the measure of 
promulgation, which, after some delibera 
tion, was agreed on by way of circular 
letter, which has been forwarded to those 
persons to whom precaution was useful, 
and afterward sent to one of the presses in 
that quarter for publication, in the form of 
the document No. 3, which accompanies 
this report. 

"All which is, with due deference, sub 
mitted. . 

December 30, 1806." 


Starting from Cumberland the general 
alignment of Braddock s Road was pursued, 
until the point was reached where the old 
thoroughfare left the old portage trail, on 
the summit of Laurel Hill. The course 
was then laid straight toward Brownsville 
(Redstone Old Fort) probably along the 
general alignment of the old Indian portage 
path, and an earlier road. From Browns 
ville to Washington was an old road, pos 
sibly the course of the Indian trail. 

As has already been suggested, there 
was a dispute concerning the point where 
the road would touch the Ohio River. The 
rivalry was most intense between Wheeling 
and Steubenville. Wheeling won through 
the influence of Henry Clay, to whom a 
monument was erected at a later date near 
the town on the old road. The commis 
sioners rendered a second report on the 
fifteenth of January, 1808 as follows: 

" The undersigned, commissioners ap 
pointed under the law of the United States, 
entitled An act to regulate the laying out 
and making a road from Cumberland, in 
the State of Maryland, to the State of 
Ohio/ in addition to the communications 


heretofore made, beg leave further to 
report to the President of the United States, 
that, by the delay of the answer of the 
Legislature of Pennsylvania to the applica 
tion for permission to pass the road through 
that state, the commissioners could not 
proceed to the business of the road in the 
spring before vegetation had so far advanced 
as to render the work of exploring and 
surveying difficult and tedious, from which 
circumstance it was postponed till the last 
autumn, when the business was again 
resumed. That, in obedience to the special 
instructions given them, the route hereto 
fore reported has been so changed as to 
pass through Uniontown, and that they 
have completed the location, gradation, 
and marking of the route from Cumberland 
to Brownsville, Bridgeport, and the Monon- 
gahela river, agreeably to a plat of the 
courses, distances and grades in which is 
described the marks and monuments by 
which the route is designated, and which 
is herewith exhibited ; that by this plat and 
measurement it will appear (when com 
pared with the road now traveled) there is 
a saving of four miles of distance between 


Cumberland and Brownsville on the new 

" In the gradation of the surface of the 
route (which became necessary) is ascer 
tained the comparative elevation and 
depression of different points on the route, 
and taking a point ten feet above the sur 
face of low water in the Potomac river at 
Cumberland, as the horizon, the most 
prominent points are found to be elevated 
as follows, viz. : 


Summit of Wills mountain . . 581.3 
Western foot of same . . . 304.4 
Summit of Savage mountain . 2,022.24 
Savage river . . . .1,741.6 
Summit Little Savage mountain . 1,900.4 
Branch Pine Run, first Western 

water ..... 1,699.9 
Summit of Red Hill (afterwards 

called shades of death) . .1,914.3 
Summit Little Meadow mountain. 2,026.16 
Little Youghiogheny river . . 1,322.6 
East Fork of Shade run . . 1,558.92 
Summit of Negro mountain, high 
est point 3 .... 2,328.12 
8 Keyser s Ridge. 


Middle branch of White s creek, at 
the west foot of Negro moun 
tain 1,360.5 

White s creek .... 1,195.5 
Big Youghiogheny river . . 645.5 
Summit of ridge between Yough 
iogheny river and Beaver wa 
ters i,5i4-5 

Beaver Run 1,123.8 

Summit of Laurel Hill . .1,550.16 
Court House in Uniontown . . 274.65 
A point ten feet above the surface 
of low water in the Mononga- 
hela river, at the mouth of Dun- 
lap s creek .... 119.26 
" The law requiring the commissioners 
to report such parts of the route as are laid 
on the old road, as well as those on new 
grounds, and to state those parts which 
require the most immediate attention and 
amelioration, the probable expense of mak 
ing the same passable in the most difficult 
parts, and through the whole distance, they 
have to state that, from the crooked and 
hilly course of the road now traveled, the 
new route could not be made to occupy any 
part of it (except an intersection on Wills 


mountain, another at Jesse Tomlinson s, 
and a third near Big Youghiogheny, em 
bracing not a mile of distance in the whole) 
without unnecessary sacrifices of distances 
and expense. 

" That, therefore, an estimate must be 
made on the route as passing wholly 
through new grounds. In doing this the 
commissioners feel great difficulty, as they 
cannot, with any degree of precision, esti 
mate the expense of making it merely 
passable ; nor can they allow themselves to 
suppose that a less breadth than that men 
tioned in the law was to be taken into the 
calculation. The rugged deformity of the 
grounds rendered it impossible to lay a 
route within the grade limited by law 
otherwise than by ascending and descend 
ing the hills obliquely, by which circum 
stance a great proportion of the route 
occupies the sides of the hills, which 
cannot be safely passed on a road of com 
mon breadth, and where it will, in the 
opinion of the commissioners, be necessary, 
by digging, to give the proper form of 
thirty feet, at least in the breadth of the 
road, to afford suitable security in passing 


on a way to be frequently crowded with 
wagons moving in opposite directions, with 
transports of emigrant families, and droves 
of cattle, hogs, etc., on the way to market. 
Considering, therefore, that a road on those 
grounds must have sufficient breadth to 
afford ways and water courses, and satisfied 
that nothing short of well constructed and 
completely finished conduits can insure it 
against injuries, which must otherwise 
render it impassable at every change of the 
seasons, by heavy falls of rain or melting 
of the beds of snow, with which the country 
is frequently covered; the commissioners 
beg leave to say, that, in a former report, 
they estimated the expense of a road on 
these grounds, when properly shaped, 
made and finished in the style of a stone- 
covered turnpike, at $6,000 per mile, exclu 
sive of bridges over the principal streams 
on the way; and that with all the informa 
tion they have since been able to collect, 
they have no reason to make any alteration 
in that estimate. 

" The contracts authorized by, and which 
have been taken under the superintendence 
of the commissioner, Thomas Moore (dupli- 


cates of which accompany this report), will 
show what has been undertaken relative to 
clearing the timber and brush from part of 
the breadth of the road. The performance 
of these contracts was in such forwardness 
on the ist instant as leaves no doubt of 
their being completely fulfilled by the first 
of March. 

" The commissioners further state, that, 
to aid them in the extension of their route, 
they ran and marked a straight line from 
the crossing-place on the Monongahela, to 
Wheeling, and had progressed twenty 
miles, with their usual and necessary lines 
of experiment, in ascertaining the shortest 
and best connection of practical grounds, 
when the approach of winter and the short 
ness of the days afforded no expectation 
that they could complete the location 
without a needless expense in the most 
inclement season of the year. And, presum 
ing that the postponement of the remain 
ing part till the ensuing spring would 
produce no delay in the business of making 
the road, they were induced to retire from 
it for the present. 

" The great length of time already em- 


ployed in this business makes it proper for 
the commissioners to observe that, in order 
to connect the best grounds with that 
circumspection which the importance of the 
duties confided to them demanded, it 
became indispensably necessary to run 
lines of experiment and reference in various 
directions, which exceed an average of four 
times the distance located for the route, 
and that, through a country so irregularly 
broken, and crowded with very thick under 
wood in many places, the work has been 
found so incalculably tedious that, without 
an adequate idea of the difficulty, it is not 
easy to reconcile the delay. 

" It is proper to mention that an imperi 
ous call from the private concerns of Com 
missioner Joseph Kerr, compelled him to 
return home on the 2gih of November, 
which will account for the want of his sig 
nature to this report. 

11 All of which is, with due deference, 
submitted, this i$th day of January, 1808. 


It was necessary to obtain permission of 


each state through which the Cumberland 
Road was to be built ; Pennsylvania, only, 
made any condition, hers being that the 
road touch the towns of Washington and 
Uniontown. 4 

The first contracts were let on the 
eleventh and the sixteenth of April, 1811, 
for building the first ten miles west of 
Cumberland, Maryland. These contracts 
were completed i9 the year following. 
More were let in 1812, 1813, and 1815 ; and 
two years later contracts for all the distance 
to Uniontown, Pennsylvania were let. In 
1818, United States Mail coaches were 
running between Washington, D. C. and 
Wheeling, Virginia. The cost of the road 
averaged $9,745 per mile between Cumber 
land and Uniontown, and $13,000 per mile 
for the entire division from the Potomac to 
the Ohio. Too liberal contracts is the 
reason given for the heavy expense between 
Uniontown and Wheeling. 

A flood of traffic swept over the great 
highway immediately upon its completion. 

4 The dates on which the three states gave their per 
mission were: Pennsylvania, April 9, 1807; Maryland, 
1806; Ohio, 1824. 


As early as the year 1822 it is recorded 
that a single one of the five commission 
houses at Wheeling unloaded one thousand 
and eighty-one wagons, averaging three 
thousand five hundred pounds each, and 
paid for freightage of goods the sum of 
ninety thousand dollars. 

But the road was hardly completed when 
a specter of constitutional cavil arose, 
threatening its existence. In 1822 a bill 
was passed by Congress looking toward the 
preservation and repair of the newly-built 
road. It should be stated that the road 
bed, though completed in one sense, was 
not in condition to be used extensively 
unless continually repaired. In many 
places only a single layer of broken stone 
had been laid, and, with the volume of 
traffic which was daily passing over it, the 
road did not promise to remain in good 
condition. In order to secure funds for the 
constant repairs necessary, this bill ordered 
the establishment of turnpikes with gates 
and tolls. The bill was immediately vetoed 
by President Monroe on the ground that 
Congress, according to his interpretation 
of the constitution,, did not have the power 


to pass such a sweeping measure of internal 

The President based his conclusion upon 
the following grounds, stated in a special 
message to Congress, dated May 4, 1822 : 

" A power to establish turnpikes, with 
gates and tolls and to enforce the collection 
of the tolls by penalties, implies a power to 
adopt and execute a complete system of 
internal improvements. A right to impose 
duties to be paid by all persons passing a 
certain road, and on horses and carriages, 
as is done by this bill, involves the right 
to take the land from the proprietor on a 
valuation, and to pass laws for the protec 
tion of the road from injuries; and if it 
exist, as to one road, it exists as to any 
other, and to as many roads as Congress 
may think proper to establish. A right to 
legislate for the others is a complete right 
of jurisdiction and sovereignty for all the 
purposes of internal improvement, and not 
merely the right of applying money under 
the power vested in Congress to make 
appropriations (under which power, with 
the consent of the states through which the 
road passes, the work was originally com- 


menced, and has been so far executed). I 
am of the opinion that Congress does not 
possess this power that the states individ 
ually cannot grant it; for, although they 
may assent to the appropriation of money 
within their limits for such purposes, they 
can grant no power of jurisdiction of sov 
ereignty, by special compacts with the 
United States. This power can be granted 
only by an amendment to the constitution, 
and in the mode prescribed by it. If the 
power exist, it must be either because it 
has been specially granted to the United 
States, or that it is incidental to some 
power, which has been specifically granted. 
It has never been contended that the power 
was specifically granted. It is claimed only 
as being incidental to some one or more of 
the powers which are specifically granted. 
"The folio wing are the powers from which 
it is said to be derived: (i) From the right 
to establish post offices and post roads; (2) 
from the right to declare war; (3) to regu 
late commerce; (4) to pay the debts and 
provide for the common defense and the 
general welfare; (5) from the power to 
make all laws necessary and proper for car- 


tying into execution all the powers vested 
by the constitution in the government of 
the United States, or in any department or 
officer thereof; (6) and lastly from the 
power to dispose of and make all needful 
rules and regulations respecting the terri 
tory and other property of the United 
States. According to my judgment it can 
not be derived from either of these powers, 
nor from all of them united, and in conse 
quence it does not exist." 5 

During the early years of this century, 
the subject of internal improvements rela 
tive to the building of roads and canals 
was one of the foremost political questions 
of the day. No sooner were the debts of 
the Revolutionary War paid, and a surplus 
accumulated, than a systematic improve 
ment of the country was undertaken. The 
Cumberland Road was but one of several 
roads projected by the general Government. 
Through the administrations of Adams, 
Jefferson, and Madison large appropriations 
had been made for numerous improve 
ments. The bill authorizing the levying 

8 Richardson (editor) : Messages and Papers of the 
Presidents, vol. ii, p. 142. 


of tolls was a step too far, as President 
Monroe held that it was one thing to make 
appropriations for public improvements, 
but an entirely different thing to assume 
jurisdiction and sovereignty over the land 
whereon those improvements were made. 
This was one of the great public questions 
in the first half of the present century. 
President Jackson s course was not very 
consistent. Before his election he voted 
for internal improvements, even advocating 
subscriptions by the Government to the 
stock of private canal companies, and the 
formation of roads beginning and ending 
within the limits of certain states. In his 
message at the opening of the first congress 
after his accession, he suggested the divi 
sion of the surplus revenue among the 
states, as a substitute for the promotion of 
internal improvements by the general Gov 
ernment, attempting a limitation and 
distinction too difficult and important to be 
settled and acted upon on the judgment of 
one man, namely, the distinction between 
general and local objects. 

" The pleas of the advocates of internal 
improvement," wrote a contemporary au- 


thority of high standing on economic ques 
tions, " are these: That very extensive 
public works, designed for the benefit of the 
whole Union, and carried through vast 
portions of its area, must be accomplished. 
That an object so essential ought not to be 
left at the mercy of such an accident as the 
cordial agreement of the requisite number 
of states, to carry such works forward to 
their completion; that the surplus funds 
accruing from the whole nation cannot be 
as well employed as in promoting works in 
which the whole nation will be benefited ; 
and that as the interests of the majority 
have hitherto upheld Congress in the use 
of this power, it may be assumed to be the 
will of the majority that Congress should 
continue to exercise it. 

" The answer is that it is inexpedient to 
put a vast and increasing patronage into 
the hands of the general Government; that 
only a very superficial knowledge can be 
looked for in members of Congress as to 
the necessity or value of works proposed to 
be instituted in any parts of the states, 
from the impossibility or undesirableness 
of equalizing the amount of appropriation 


made to each ; that useless works would be 
proposed from the spirit of competition or 
individual interest; and that corruption, 
coextensive with the increase of power, 
would deprave the functions of the general 
Government. . . To an impartial ob 
server it appears that Congress has no 
constitutional right to devote the public 
funds to internal improvements, at its own 
unrestricted will and pleasure; that the 
permitted usurpation of the power for so 
long a time indicates that some degree of 
such power in the hands of the general Gov 
ernment is desirable and necessary; that 
such power should be granted through an 
amendment of the constitution, by the 
methods therein provided; that, in the 
meantime, it is perilous that the instrument 
should be strained for the support of any 
function, however desirable its exercise 
may be. 

" In case of the proposed addition being 
made to the constitution, arrangements will, 
of course, be entered into for determining 
the principles by which general are to be 
distinguished from local objects or whether 
such distinction can, on any principle, be 


fixed; for testing the utility of proposed 
objects; for checking extravagant expendi 
ture, jobbing, and corrupt patronage; in 
short, the powers of Congress will be 
specified, here as in other matters, by 
express permission and prohibition." 6 

In 1824, however, President Monroe 
found an excuse to sign a bill which was very 
similar to that vetoed in 1822, and the great 
road, whose fate had hung for two years 
in the balance, received needed appropria 
tions. The travel over the road in the first 
decade after its completion was heavy, and 
before a decade had passed the roadbed 
was in wretched condition. It was the plan 
of the friends of the road, when they real 
ized that no revenue could be raised by 
means of tolls by the Government, to have 
the road placed in a state of good repair by 
the Government and then turned over to 
the several states through which it passed. 7 

The liberality of the government, at this 
juncture, in instituting thorough repairs on 
the road, was an act worthy of the road s 
service and destiny. 

8 Harriet Martineau s Society in America, vol. ii, pp. 

See Appropriation No. 27, in Appendix A. 


In order to insure efficiency and perma 
nency these repairs 8 were made on the 
Macadam system ; that is to say, the pave 
ment of the old road was entirely broken 
up, and the stones removed from the road ; 
the bed was then raked smooth, and made 
nearly flat, having a rise of not more than 
three inches from the side to the center in 
a road thirty feet wide ; the ditches on each 
side of the road, and the drains leading 
from them, were so constructed that the 
water could not stand at a higher level 
than eighteen inches below the lowest part 
of the surface of the road; and, in all cases, 
when it was practicable, the drains were 
adjusted in such manner as to lead the 
water entirely from the side ditches. The 
culverts were cleared out, and so adjusted 
as to allow the free passage of all water 
that tended to cross the road. 

Having thus formed the bed of the road, 
cleaned out the ditches and culverts, and 
adjusted the side drains, the stone was 
reduced to a size not exceeding four ounces 
in weight, was spread on with shovels, and 

8 For specimen advertisement for repairs see Appen 
dix B. 


raked smooth. The old material was used 
when it was of sufficient hardness, and no 
clay or sand was allowed to be mixed with 
the stone. 

In replacing the covering of stone, it was 
found best to lay it on in layers of about 
three inches thick, admitting the travel for 
a short interval on each layer, and inter 
posing such obstructions from time to time 
as would insure an equal travel over every 
portion of the road; care being taken to 
keep persons in constant attendance to rake 
the surface when it became uneven by the 
action of wheels of carriages. In those 
parts of the road, if any, where materials 
of good quality could not be obtained for 
the road in sufficient quantity to afford a 
course of six inches, new stone was pro 
cured to make up the deficiency to that 
thickness; but it was considered unneces 
sary, in any part, to put on a covering of 
more than nine inches. None but lime 
stone, flint, or granite were used for the 
covering, if practicable; and no covering 
was placed upon the bed of the road till it 
had become well compacted and thoroughly 
dried. At proper intervals, on the slopes 


of hills, drains or paved catch-waters were 
made across the road, whenever the cost of 
constructing culverts rendered their use 
inexpedient. These catch-waters were 
made with a gradual curvature, so as to 
give no jolts to the wheels of carriages 
passing over them ; but whenever the 
expense justified the introduction of cul 
verts, they were used in preference, and in 
all cases where the water crossed the road, 
either in catch-waters or through culverts, 
sufficient pavements and overfalls were 
constructed to provide against the possi 
bility of the road or banks being washed 
away by it. 

The masonry of the bridges, culverts, and 
side- walls was ordered to be repaired, 
whenever required, in a substantial man 
ner, and care was taken that the mortar 
used was of good quality, without admix 
ture of raw clay. All the masonry was 
well pointed with hydraulic mortar, and in 
no case was the pointing allowed to be put 
on after the middle of October. All ma 
sonry finished after this time was well 
covered, and pointed early in the spring. 
Care was taken, also, to provide means for 


carrying off the water from the bases of 
walls, to prevent the action of frost on 
their foundations; and it was considered 
highly important that all foundations in 
masonry should be well pointed with 
hydraulic mortar to a depth of eighteen 
inches below the surface of the ground. 

By the year 1818, travel over the first 
great road across the Allegheny Mountains 
into the Ohio Basin had begun. 



THE tales of those who knew the road 
in the West and those who knew it 
in the East are much alike. It is 
probable that there was one important dis 
tinction the passenger traffic of the road 
between the Potomac and Ohio, which gave 
life on that portion of the road a peculiar 
flavor, was doubtless not equaled on the 
western division. 

For many years the center of western 
population was in the Ohio Valley, and 
good steamers were plying the Ohio when 
the Cumberland Road was first opened. 
Indeed the road was originally intended 
for the accommodation of the lower Ohio 
Valley. 9 Still, as the century grew old 

9 The early official correspondence concerning the 
route of the road shows plainly that it was really built 
for the benefit of the ChiHicothe and Cincinnati settle 
ments, which embraced a large portion of Ohio s popu- 


and the interior population became consid 
erable, the Ohio division of the road 
became a crowded thoroughfare. An old 
stage-driver in eastern Ohio remembers 
when business was such that he and his 
companion Knights of Rein and Whip 
never went to bed for twenty nights, and 
more than a hundred teams might have 
been met in a score of miles. 

When the road was built to Wheeling, its 
greatest mission was accomplished the 
portage path across the mountains was 
completed to a point where river naviga 
tion was almost always available. And 
yet less than half of the road was finished. 
It now touched the eastern extremity of 
the great state whose public lands were 
being sold in order to pay for its building. 
Westward lay the growing states of Indi 
ana and Illinois, a per cent of the sale of 

lation. The opening of river traffic in the first two 
decades of the century, however, had the effect of 
throwing the line of the road further northward through 
the capitals of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Zane s 
Trace, diverging from the Cumberland Road at Zanes- 
ville, played an important part in the development of 
southwestern Ohio, becoming the course of the Lancas 
ter and Maysville Pike. See Historic Highways of 
America, vol. xi. 


whose land had already been pledged to the 
road. Then came another moment when 
the great work paused and the original 
ambition of its friends was at hazard. 

In 1820 Congress appropriated one hun 
dred and forty-one thousand dollars for 
completing the road from Washington, 
Pennsylvania to Wheeling. In the same 
year ten thousand dollars was appropriated 
for laying out the road between Wheeling, 
Virginia and a point on the left bank of 
the Mississippi River, between St. Louis 
and the mouth of the Illinois River. For 
four years the fate of the road west of the 
Ohio hung in the balance, during which 
time the road was menaced by the specter 
of unconstitutionality, already mentioned. 
But on the third day of March, 1825, a bill 
was passed by Congress appropriating one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars for 
building the road to Zanesville, Ohio, and 
the extension of the surveys to the perma 
nent seat of government in Missouri, to 
pass by the seats of government of Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois. 10 Two years later, 
one hundred and seventy thousand dollars 

10 See Appropriation No. 14, in Appendix A. 


was appropriated to complete the road to 
Zanesville, Ohio, and in 1829 an additional 
appropriation for continuing it westward 
was made. 11 

It has been noted that the Cumberland 
Road from Cumberland to Wheeling was 
built on a general alignment of a former 
thoroughfare of the red men and the 
pioneers. So with much of the course west 
of the Ohio. Between Wheeling and 
Zanesville the Cumberland Road followed 
the course of the first road made through 
Ohio, that celebrated route marked out, by 
way of Lancaster and Chillicothe, to Ken 
tucky, by Colonel Ebenezer Zane, and 
which bore the name of Zane s Trace. 
This first road built in Ohio was authorized 
by an act of Congress passed May 17, I796. 12 
This route through Ohio was a well worn 
road a quarter of a century before the 
Cumberland Road was extended across the 
Ohio River. 

The act of 1825, authorizing the exten 
sion of the great road into the state of 
Ohio, was greeted with intense enthusiasm 

11 See Appropriations Nos. 20 and 21, in Appendix A. 
12 Private Laws of the United States, May 17, 1796. 


by the people of the West. The fear that 
the road would not be continued beyond 
the Ohio River was generally entertained, 
and for good reasons. The debate of con 
stitutionality, which had been going on for 
several years, increased the fear. And yet 
it would have been breaking faith with the 
West by the national Government to have 
failed to continue the road. 

The act appropriated one hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars for an extension of 
the road from Wheeling to Zanesville, 
Ohio, and work was immediately under 
taken. The Ohio was by far the greatest 
body of water which the road crossed, and 
for many years the passage from Wheeling 
to the opposite side of the Ohio, Bridge 
port, was made by ferry. Later a great 
bridge, the admiration of the countryside, 
was erected. The road entered Ohio in 
Belmont County, and eventually crossed 
the state in a due line west, not deviating 
its course even to touch cities of such im 
portance as Newark or Dayton, although, 
in the case of the former at least, such a 
course would have been less expensive than 
the one pursued. Passing due west the 


road was built through Belmont, Guernsey, 
Muskingum, Licking, Franklin, Madison, 
Clark, Montgomery, and Preble Counties, 
a distance of over three hundred miles. A 
larger portion of the Cumberland Road 
which was actually completed lay in Ohio 
than in all other states through which it 
passed combined. 

The work on the road between Wheeling 
and Zanesville was begun in 1825-26. 
Ground was broken with great ceremony 
opposite the Court House at St. Clairsville, 
Belmont County, July 4, 1825. An address 
was made by Mr. William B. Hubbard. 
The cost of the road in eastern Ohio was 
much less than the cost in Pennsylvania, 
averaging only about three thousand four 
hundred dollars per mile. This included 
three-inch layers of broken stone, masonry 
bridges, and culverts. Large appropria 
tions were made for the road in succeeding 
years and the work went on from Zanesville 
due west to Columbus. The course of the 
road between Zanesville and Columbus was 
perhaps the first instance where the road 
ignored, entirely, the general alignment of 
a previous road between the same two 


points. The old road between Zanesville 
and Columbus went by way of Newark and 
Granville, a roundabout course, but prob 
ably the most practicable, as anyone may 
attest who has traveled over the Cumber 
land Road in the western part of Muskin- 
gutn County. A long and determined 
effort was made by citizens of Newark and 
Granville to have the new road follow the 
course of the old, but without effect. Ohio 
had not, like Pennsylvania, demanded that 
the road should pass through certain towns. 
The only direction named by law was that 
the road should go west on the straightest 
possible line through the capital of each 

The course between Zanesville and 
Columbus was located by the United States 
commissioner, Jonathan Knight, Esq., who, 
accompanied by his associates (one of whom 
was the youthful Joseph E. Johnson), 
arrived in Columbus, October 5, 1825. 
Bids for contracts for building the road 
from Zanesville to Columbus were adver 
tised to be received at the superintendent s 
office at Zanesville, from the twenty-third 
to the thirtieth of June, 1829. The road 


was fillly completed by 1833. The road 
entered Columbus on Friend (now Main) 
Street. There was great rivalry between 
the North End and South End over the 
road s entrance into the city. The matter 
was compromised by having it enter on 
Friend Street and take its exit on West 
Broad, traversing High to make the con 

Concerning the route out of Columbus, 
the Ohio State Journal said : 

" The adopted route leaves Columbus at 
Broad Street, crosses the Scioto River at 
the end of that street and on the new 
wooden bridge erected in 1826 by an indi 
vidual having a charter from the state. 
The bridge is not so permanent nor so 
spacious as could be desired, yet it may 
answer the intended purposes for several 
years to come. Thence the location passes 
through the village of Franklinton, and 
across the low grounds to the bluff which 
is surrounded at a depression formed by a 
ravine, and at a point nearly in the pro 
longation in the direction of Broad Street; 
thence by a small angle, a straight line to 
the bluffs of Darby Creek; to pass the 


creek and its bluffs some angles were 
necessary; thence nearly a straight line 
through Deer Creek Barrens, and across 
that stream to the dividing grounds, 
between the Scioto and the Miami waters; 
thence nearly down to the valley of Beaver 

The preliminary survey westward was 
completed in 1826 and extended to Indian 
apolis, Indiana. Bids were advertised for 
the contract west of Columbus in July 1830. 
During the next seven years the work was 
pushed on through Madison, Clark, Mont 
gomery, and Preble Counties and across 
the Indiana line. Proposals for bids for 
building the road west of Springfield, Ohio, 
were advertised for, during August 1837; 
a condition being that the first eight miles 
be finished by January 1838. These pro 
posals are interesting today. The follow 
ing is a typical advertisement: 

contractors. Proposals will be received by 
the undersigned, until the iQth of August 
inst., for clearing and grubbing eight miles 
of the line of National Road west of this 
place, from the 55th to the 62nd mile inclu- 


sive west of Columbus the work to be 
completed on or before the ist day of 
January, 1838. 

"The trees and growth to be entirely 
cleared away to the distance of 40 feet on 
each side of the central axis of the road, 
and all trees impending over that space to 
be cut down ; all stumps and roots to be 
carefully grubbed out to the distance of 20 
feet on each side of the axis, and where 
occasional high embankments, or spacious 
side drains may be required, the grubbing 
is to extend to the distance of 30 feet on 
each side of the same axis. All the timber, 
brush, stumps and roots to be entirely 
removed from the above space of 80 feet in 
width and the earth excavated in grubbing, 
to be thrown back into the hollows formed 
by removing the stumps and roots. 

"The proposals will state the price per 
linear rod or mile, and the offers of com 
petent, or responsible individuals only will 
be accepted. 

"Notice is hereby given to the proprietors 
of the land, on that part of the line of the 
National Road lying between Springfield 
and the Miami river, to remove all fences 


and other barriers now across the line a 
reasonable time being allowed them to 
secure that portion of their present crops 
which may lie upon the location of the road. 

Lieutenant U. 5. Engineers Supt. 

National Road Office, Springfield, Ohio. 
August 2nd 1837." 13 

Indianapolis was the center of Cumber 
land Road operations in Indiana, and from 
that city the road was built both eastward 
and westward. The road entered Indiana 
through Wayne County but was not com 
pleted until taken under a charter from the 
state by the Wayne County Turnpike Com 
pany, and finished in 1850. When Indiana 
and Illinois received the road from the 
national Government it was not completed, 
though graded and bridged as far west as 
Vandalia, then the capital of Illinois. 

The Cumberland Road was not to Indiana \ 
and Illinois what it was to OhiOj for some 
what similar reasons that it was less to 
Ohio than to Pennsylvania, for the further 
west it was built the older the century 

* Spring fie Id Pioneer, August 1837; also Ohio State 
Journal, August 8, 1837. 


grew, and the newer the means of trans 
portation which were coming rapidly to the 
front. This was true, even, from the very 
beginning. The road was hardly a decade 
old in Pennsylvania, when two canals and 
a railroad over the portage, offered a rival 
means of transportation across the state 
from Harrisburg to Pittsburg. 14 When the 
road reached Wheeling, Ohio River travel 
was very much improved, and a large 
proportion of traffic went down the river 
by packet. When the road entered Indi 
ana, new plans for internal improvements 
were under way beside which a turnpike 
was almost a relic. In 1835-36, Indiana 
passed an internal improvement bill, au 
thorizing three great canals and a railway. 15 
The proposed railway, from the village of 
Madison on the Ohio River northward to 
Indianapolis, is a pregnant suggestion of 
the amount of traffic to Indiana from the 
east which passed down the Ohio from 
Wheeling, instead of going overland 

14 Harriet Martineau s Society in America* vol. i, p. 17. 

15 Wabash-Erie, Whitewater, and Indiana Central 
Canals and the Madison and Indianapolis Railway. Cf . 
At water s Tour, p. 31. 


through Ohio. 16 This was, undoubtedly, 
mostly passenger traffic, which was very 
heavy at this time. 17 

But the dawning of a new era in trans 
portation had already been heralded in the 
national hall of legislation. In 1832 the 
House Committee on Roads and Canals 
had discussed in their report the question 
of the relative cost of various means of 
intercommunication, including railways. 
Each report of the committee for the next 
five years mentioned the same subject, 
until, in 1836, the matter of substituting a 
railway for the Cumberland Road between 
Columbus and the Mississippi was very 
seriously considered. 

In that year a House Bill (No. 64) came 
back from the Senate amended in two par 
ticulars, one authorizing that the appropria 
tions made for Illinois should be confined 
to grading and bridging only, and should 
not be construed as implying that Congress 
had pledged itself to macadamize the road. 

16 Illinois in 37, pp. 766-767. This was probably pas 
senger and freight traffic as the mails went overland 
from the very first, until the building of railways. 

17 Ohio State Journal, January 8, 1836. 


The House Committee struck out these 
amendments and substituted a more sweep 
ing one than any yet suggested in the 
history of the road. This amendment pro 
vided that a railroad be constructed west of 
Columbus with the money appropriated for 
a highway. The committee reported, that, 
after long study of the question, many 
reasons appeared why the change should 
be made. It was stated to the committee 
by respectable authority, that much of the 
stone for the masonry and covering for the 
road east of Columbus had to be transported 
for considerable distances over bad roads 
across the adjacent country at very great 
expense, and that, in its continuance west 
ward through Ohio, this source of expense 
would be greatly augmented. Nevertheless 
the compact at the time of the admission of 
the western states supposed the western 
termination of the road should be the Mis 
sissippi. The estimated expense of the 
road s extension to Vandalia, Illinois, 
sixty-five miles east of the Mississippi, 
amounted to $4,732,622.83, making the 
total expense of the entire road amount to 
about ten millions. The committee said it 


would have been unfaithful to the trust 
reposed in it, if it had not bestowed much 
attention upon this matter, and it did not 
hesitate to ground on a recent report of the 
Secretary of War, this very important 
change of the plan of the road. This 
report of the War Department showed that 
the distance between Columbus and Van- 
dalia was three hundred and thirty-four 
miles and the estimated cost of completing 
the road that far would be $4,732,622.83, 
of which $i, 120,320.01 had been expended 
and $3,547,894.83 remained to be expended 
in order to finish the road to that extent 
according to plans then in operation; that 
after its completion it would require an 
annual expenditure on the three hundred 
and thirty-four miles of $392,809.71 to keep 
it in repair, the engineers computing the 
annual cost of repairs of the portion of the 
road between Wheeling and Columbus 
(one hundred and twenty-seven miles) at 

On the other hand the estimated cost of 
a railway from Columbus to Vandalia on 
the route of the Cumberland Road was 
$4,280,540.37, and the cost of preservation 


and repair of such a road, $173,718.25. 
Thus the computed cost of the railway 
exceeded that of the turnpike but about 
twenty per cent, while the annual expense 
of repairing the former would fall short 
more than fifty-six per cent. In addition 
to the advantage of reduced cost was that 
of less time consumed in transportation ; for, 
assuming as the committee did a rate of 
speed of fifteen miles per hour (which was 
five miles per hour less than the then 
customary speed of railway traveling in 
England on the Liverpool and Manchester 
Railroad, and about the ordinary rate of 
speed of the American locomotives), it 
would require only twenty-three hours for 
news from Baltimore to reach Columbus, 
forty-two hours to Indianapolis, fifty-four 
to Vandalia, and fifty-eight to St. Louis. 

One interesting argument for the substi 
tution of the railway for the Cumberland 
Road was given as follows : 

" When the relation of the general Gov 
ernment to the states which it unites is 
justly regarded; when it is considered it is 
especially charged with the common 
defense; that for the attainment of this 


end the militia must be combined in time 
of war with the regular army and the state 
with the United States troops ; that mutual 
prompt and vigorous concert should mark 
the efforts of both for the accomplishment 
of a common end and the safety of all ; it 
seems needless to dwell upon the impor 
tance of transmitting intelligence between 
the state and federal government with the 
least possible delay and concentrating in a 
period of common danger their joint efforts 
with the greatest possible dispatch. It is 
alike needless to detail the comparative 
advantages of a railroad and an ordinary 
turnpike under such circumstances. A few 
weeks, nay, a very few days, or hours, may 
determine the issue of a campaign, though 
happily for the United States their distance 
from a powerful enemy may limit the con 
tingency of war to destruction short of that 
by which the events of an hour had involved 
ruin of an empire." 

Despite the weight of argument presented 
by the House Committee their amendment 
was in turn stricken out, and the bill of 
1836 appropriated six hundred thousand 
dollars for the Cumberland Road, both of 


the Senate amendments which the House 
Committee had stricken out being incor 
porated in the bill. 

The last appropriation for the Cumber 
land Road was dated May 25, 1838; it 
granted one hundred and fifty thousand dol 
lars for the road in both Ohio and Indiana, 
and nine thousand dollars for the road in 



THE Cumberland Road was built by 
the United States Government under 
the supervision of the War Depart 
ment. Of its builders, whose names will 
ever live in the annals of the Middle West, 
Brigadier-general Gratiot, Captains Dela- 
field, McKee, Bliss, Bartlett Hartzell, 
Williams, Colquit, and Cass, and Lieute 
nants Mansfield, Vance, and Pickell are best 
remembered on the eastern division. 
Nearly all became heroes of the Mexican 
or Civil Wars, McKee falling at Buena 
Vista, Williams at Monterey, and Mansfield, 
then major-general, at Antietam. 

Among the best known supervisors in the 
west were Commissioners C. W. Weaver, 
G. Button, and Jonathan Knight. 

The road had been built across the Ohio 
River but a short time when it was realized 
that a revenue must be raised for its sup- 


port from those who traveled upon it. As 
we have seen, a law was passed in both 
houses of Congress, in 1824, authorizing 
the Government to erect tollgates and 
charge toll on the Cumberland Road as the 
states should surrender this right. 18 This 
bill was vetoed by President Monroe, on 
grounds already stated, and the road fell 
into a very bad condition. But what the 
national Government could not do the 
individual states could do, and, conse 
quently, as fast as repairs were completed, 
the Government surrendered the road to 
the states through which it passed. Mary 
land, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, 
accepted completed portions of the road 
between 1831 and 1834. 19 The legislatures 
of Ohio and Pennsylvania at once passed 
laws concerning the erection of tollgates, 
Ohio authorizing one gate every twenty 
miles, February 4, I83I, 20 and Pennsylvania 
authorizing the erection of six tollgates by 

18 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), p. 500. 

19 See Appropriation No. 27, in Appendix A. 

20 Law s of Ohio, XXIX, p. 76. For specimen adver 
tisement for bids for erection of tollgates in Ohio see 
Appendix D. 


an act passed April u, of the same year. 21 

The gates in Pennsylvania were located 
as follows: Gate No. i at the east end of 
Petersburg, No. 2 near Mt. Washington, 
No. 3 near Searights, No. 4 near Bealls- 
ville, No. 5 near Washington, and No. 6 
near West Alexander. 

The Cumberland Road was under the 
control of commissioners appointed by the 
President of the United States, the state 
legislatures, or governors. 22 Upon these 
commissioners lay the task of repairing the 
road, which included the making of con 
tracts, reviewing the work done, and 
rendering payment for the same. None of 
the work of building the road fell on the 
state officials. Therefore, in Ohio, two 
great departments were simultaneously in 
operation, the building of the road by the 
goverijment officials, and the work of 
operating and repairing the road, under 
state officials. Two commissioners were 
appointed in Pennsylvania, in 1847, one 
acting east, and the other west, of the 
Monongahela River. 23 In 1836 Ohio placed 

21 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), p. 419. 

99 Id., p. 523. 

, p. 477- 


all her works of internal improvement 
tinder the supervision of a Board of Public 
Works, into whose hands the Cumberland 
Road passed. 24 Special commissioners were 
appointed from time to time by the state 
legislatures to perform special duties, such 
as overseeing work being done, auditing 
accounts, or settling disputes. 25 Two resi 
dent engineers were appointed over the 
eastern and western divisions of the road 
in Ohio, thus doing away with the contin 
ual employment and dismissal of the most 
important of all officials. These engineers 
made quarterly reports concerning the 
road s condition. 26 

The road was conveniently divided by 
the several states into departments. East 
of the Ohio River, the Monongahela River 
was a division line, the road being divided 
by it into two divisions. 27 West of the 
Ohio the eighty- seventh mile post from 
Wheeling was, at one time, a division line 
between two departments in Ohio. 28 Later, 

24 Laws of Ohio, XXXIV, p. 41 ; XXV, p. 7. 

25 /tf., XXIII, p. 447. 

26 Id., XLIII, p. 89. 

21 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), p. 477. 

28 Laws of Ohio, XLIII, p. 140. 


the road in Ohio was cut up into as many 
divisions as counties through which it 
passed. 29 The work of repairing was let 
by contract, for which bids had been previ 
ously advertised. Contracts were usually 
let in one-mile sections, sometimes for a 
longer space, notice of the length being 
given in the advertisement for bids. Con 
tractors were compelled to give testimonials 
of good character and reliability; though 
one contract, previously quoted, professed 
to be satisfied with " competent or respon 
sible individuals only." A time limit was 
usually named in the contract, with penal 
ties for failure to complete the work in 
time assigned. 

The building of the road was hailed with 
delight by hundreds of contractors and thou 
sands of laborers, who now had employment 
offered them worthy of their best labor, 
and the work, when well done, stood as a 
lasting monument to their skill. Old 
papers and letters speak frequently of the 
enthusiasm awakened among the laboring 
classes by the building of the great road, 
and of the lively scenes witnessed in those 

89 Id., LVIII, p. 140. 


busy years. Contractors who early earned 
a reputation followed the road westward, 
taking up contract after contract as oppor 
tunity offered. Farmers who lived on the 
route of the road engaged in the work 
when not busy in their fields, and for their 
labor and the use of the teams received good 
pay. Thus not only in its heyday did the 
road prove a benefit to the country through 
which it passed, but at the very beginning 
it became such, and not a little of the 
money spent upon it by the Government 
went into the very pockets from which it 
came by the sale of land. 

The great pride taken by the states in 
the Cumberland Road is brought out signifi 
cantly in the laws passed concerning it. 
Pennsylvania and Ohio legislatures passed 
laws as early as 1828, and within three days 
of each other (Pennsylvania, April 7, 30 and 
Ohio, April 1 1 31 ), looking toward the per- I 
manent repair and preservation of the road. 
There were penalties for breaking or defac 
ing the milestones, culverts, parapet walls, 
and bridges. A person found guilty of 

w Laivs of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), p. 500. 
31 Laws of Ohio, XXVI, p. 41. 


such act of vandalism was " fined in a sum 
of not more than five hundred dollars, or 
be imprisoned in a dungeon of the jail of 
the county, and be fed on bread and water 
only, not exceeding thirty days, or both, at 
the discretion of the court." 32 There were 
penalties for allowing the drains to become 
obstructed, for premature traveling on 
unfinished portions of the roadbed ; 33 for 


33 Concerning the celerity of opening the road after the 
completion of contracts, Captain Weaver, Superinten 
dent in Ohio, made the following statement in his report 
of 1827: 

" Upon the first, second and third divisions, with a 
cover of metal of six inches in thickness, composed of 
stone reduced to particles of not more than four ounces 
in weight, the travel was admitted in the month of June 
last. Those divisions that lie eastward of the village 
of Fairview together embrace a distance of very nearly 
twenty-eight and a half miles, and were put under con 
tract on the first of July, and first and thirty-first of 
August, 1825. This portion of the road has been, in 
pursuance of contracts made last fall and spring, covered 
with the third stratum of metal of three inches in thick 
ness, and similarly reduced. On parts of this distance, 
say about five miles made up of detached pieces, the 
travel was admitted at the commencement of the last 
winter and has continued on to this time to render it 
compact and solid; it is very firm, elastic and smooth. 
The effect has been to dissipate the prejudices which 
existed very generally, in the minds of the citizens, 


permitting a wagon to stand over night on 
the roadbed, and for locking wheels, except 
where ice made this necessary. Local 
authorities were ordered to build suitable 
culverts wherever the roads connected with 
the Cumberland Road. " Directors " were 
ordered to be set up, to warn drivers to turn 
to the left when passing other teams. 34 
The rates of toll were ordered to be posted 
where the public could see them. 35 " Bea 
cons " were erected along the margin of 
the roadbed to keep teams from turning 
aside. Laws were passed forbidding the 
removal of these. 36 

against the McAdam system, and to establish full con 
fidence over the former plan of constructing roads. 

On the first day of July, the travel was admitted 
upon the fourth and fifth divisions, and upon the second, 
third, fourth, and fifth sections of the sixth divibion of 
the road, in its graduated state. This part of the line 
was put under contract on the eleventh day of Septem 
ber, 1826, terminating at a point three miles west of 
Cambridge, and embraces a distance of twenty-three 
and a half miles. On the twenty-first of July the bal 
ance of the line to Zanesville, comprising a distance 
of a little over twenty-one miles, was let. 

84 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), p. 419. 

35 Laws of Ohio, XXVI, p. 41 ; Laws of Pennsylvania 
(pamphlet), p. 102. 

86 Id., XXVI, p. 41. 


The operation of the Cumberland Road 
included the establishment of the toll 
system, which provided the revenue for 
keeping it in repair; and from the tolls the 
most vital statistics concerning the old road 
are to be obtained. Immediately upon the 
passing of the road into the control of the 
individual states, tollgates were authorized, 
as previously noted. Schedules of tariff 
were published by the various states. The 
schedule of 1831 in Pennsylvania was as 
follows : 


\O M <^ rj- ro 



O - - 

O *% T3 CO 

*~~^ rt E^ ^ 3 f-n 

P> -^ S rt o 

00 8 . ^S * g . 

^ 5 ^ S ^ as 

5 " " " to s 8 1 "S Tl ?- 

< CO a P <D 

g rt o ^ ^- fl 

fe r d^,-r^j | D 3 

* goo^^^S 

s | I -^l a g.| 

i " il* ii li 

o ? El I s t I a 

*y r-* QJ r"< r^ OJj Cu " 

. o . SIs-^ S 

^ S ^ So o 8 *3 tt 

w o^-^ oto^^rt o;^ 


tl 8 lj1Jff |l! 

2 p- * ^ ^- ^j .a " S^gfi-S 

O u-Zu^vloav^^orQ 
2 Srt.^ : w o S^g 


H ^ /i ^O-go^,OO^ c! 

88-51 |1 S - ll 1 - 

8|^;S^Q3 S^ 3 


IH 173 W< (D CO 

o D o H a 

4J <U <_> < O 


CO ?S * Cj * Ctf 

O <D O ^ 

4) O CD d % 

rd d " rd __l * 

<^ O T} O d -J-J -*-> 

Q d 03 b d 

w ^ ^ fc 1 51 rt 

^> 5 wr * p 

^ ^ CO ^ O ^ ^ 

5 > 0) > ^ S T 

# 3 d 


^ h* d 

d <rH w 

M ^ CD 

^^ * d CD" co ^ rd 
^ d g ^ g 8 

*yr CT3 yT\ C " ^ 

^-* Cu ^13 r/^ ^ H 

< co a) (D oj "tf 

> 0) . CD O . CO d 

i_] O O H hjO 

> ja x 53 ;> - 

1 ^ w- -5 " 

I g>^ -.S3 -bo s 
w | 5 & -g a g 

* I Swa g M 

2^I^-S 8 * 

<D Co rj <H "u 

05 d^^O^^cnS 
t-3 o^. - cl&Ddrd 
J g ^ ,5 g ,d CD CO 

d o ^ 

O ^ ^ ^0 "^ MH g 

Cj > O CQ 1 .2* *Jr< ^ 

?.* 2. g 



co ^^ co ^ - 4 - 1 co ^ 
O O O 



The tolls established the same year in 
Ohio (see table, pp. 103 -104) were higher 
than those charged in Pennsylvania. 

The philosophy of the toll system is 
patent. Rates of toll were determined by 
the wear on the road. Tolls were charged 
in order to keep the road in repair, and, 
consequently, each animal or vehicle was 
taxed in proportion as it damaged the road 
bed. Cattle were taxed twice as heavily 
as sheep or hogs, and, according to the 
tariff of 1845, hogs were taxed twice as 
much as sheep. The tariff on vehicles was 
determined by the width of the tires used, 
for the narrower the tire the more the road 
bed was cut up. Wide tires were encour 
aged, those over six inches (later eight) 
went free, serving practically as rollers. 
The toll-rates in Ohio are exhibited in the 
following table : 






CO vn VO 


oo ~ O O 

O ro M 00 "t "t M 

w oo ~ o q . o o 

> VO <N ^ N 

g cc .00 . o q 


o d bJO , be 

S> .rH J3 rt X - 

O "-H 

VM rtf 

J- . <U 


r* \ rrH , t ^ t-H V^ N^ <J ^ _j NM^ 

^^^X ^X_^.S>< 

WV M wv .v, ^ wjj 

.a S .38 s .a 


1 Tf\ W ^ j_l BB ^ 

I Jj|-ji::l^i^|-l 

k> (11 V" (11 R K/ 


rj r ^ r-< ^ "^ ^^ - 

9| 0< g| a ||| .^ 

s w .a ,2 rt .s 2 45 & 

r ~ l *- | bJO<D x,Nl> ^j 1 ^^ O 

^d^^S^^.2.,^ g 

.S^ T f T o^^ r o C ^^y ) 
ST ^- g JHOJO dSf^ T S-S 
^O^-> *-oiJ^ ~r3 d " rirto * Ss co 
<u docj ^o .^ni) .rH w <Dn 
T Q r _*Ji r QTd(D T Q^ r o T1 y^ r ^(D^j o"!TJ 

.X ^ f> -r-. O t/2 .;5 d ^ .rH P ^ 10 -rt X ^ 05 

H O -* (~j CJ t-i rl O <U _r| Q vD -i r\ .~* Y~ fl 

T ^cjTQ r ^-MOa;**-" ( - jT a) VMO o<D w3 S o 


Estimates differed in various states but 
averaged up quite evenly. To the rising 
generation, to whom tollgates are almost 
unknown, a study of the toll system affords 
novel entertainment, helping one to realize 
something of one of the most serious ques 
tions of public economics of two generations 
ago. Tollgates averaged one in eighteen 
or twenty miles in Pennsylvania, and one 
in ten miles in Ohio, with tolls a little 
higher than half the rate in Pennsylvania. 
Tollgate-keepers were appointed by the 
governor in the early days in Ohio, M but, 
later, by the commissioners. These keep 
ers received a salary which was deducted 
from their collections, the remainder being 
turned over to the commissioners. The 
salary established in Ohio in 1832 was one 
hundred and eighty dollars per annum. 39 
In 1836 it was increased to two hundred 
dollars per annum, and tollgate-keepers 
were also allowed to retain five per cent of 
all tolls received above one thousand dol 
lars. 40 In 1845 tollgate-keepers were 

Laws of Ohio, XXX, p. 321. 

89 Id., XXX, p. 8. 

40 Id., XXXIV, p. in. 


ordered to make returns on the first Mon 
day in each month, and the allowance of 
their per cent on receipts over one thousand 
dollars was cut off, leaving their salary at 
two hundred dollars per annum. 41 Equally 
perplexing with the question of just tolls 
was found to be the question of determin 
ing what and who should have free use of 
the Cumberland Road.. This list was 
increased at various times, and, in most 
states, included the following at one time 
or another : persons going to, or returning 
from public worship, muster, common place 
of business on farm or woodland, funeral, 
mill, place of election, common place of 
trading or marketing within the county in 
which they resided. This included per 
sons, wagons, carriages, and horses or 
oxen drawing the same. No toll was 
charged school children or clergymen, or 
for passage of stage and horses carrying 
United States Mail, or any wagon or car 
riage laden with United States property, or 
cavalry, troops, arms, or military stores of 
the United States, or any single state, or 
for persons on duty in the military service 
41 Id., XLIII, p. 8 9 . 


of the United States, or for the militia of 
any single state. In Pennsylvania, a cer 
tain stage line made the attempt to carry 
passengers by the tollgates free, taking 
advantage of the clauses allowing free 
passage of the United States mail by put 
ting a mail sack on each passenger coach. 
The stage was halted and the matter taken 
into court, where the case was decided 
against the stage company, and persons 
traveling with mailcoaches were compelled 
to pay toll. 42 Ohio took advantage of Penn 
sylvania s experience and passed a law that 
passengers on stagecoaches be obliged to 
pay toll. 43 Pennsylvania exempted persons 
hauling coal for home consumption from 
paying toll. 44 Many varied and curious 
attempts to evade payment of tolls were 
made, and laws were passed inflicting heavy 
fine upon all convicted of such malef action. 
In Ohio, tollgate-keepers were empowered 
to arrest those suspected of such attempts, 
and, upon conviction, the fine went into the 

42 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet), pp. 534, 164, 

"Laws of Ohio, XXXV, p. 7. 
44 Laws of Pennsylvania (pamphlet;, p. 353. 


road fund of the county wherein the offense 
occurred. 45 

Persons making long trips on the road 
could pay toll for the entire distance and re 
ceive a certificate guaranteeing free passage 
to their destination. 46 Compounding rates 
were early put in force, applying, in Ohio, 
for persons residing within eight miles of 
the road, 47 the radius being extended later 
to ten. 48 Passengers in the stages were 
counted by the tollgate-keepers and the 
company operating the stage charged with 
the toll. At the end of each month, stage 
companies settled with the authorities. 
Thus it became possible for the stage driv 
ers to deceive the gate-keepers, and save 
their companies large sums of money. 
Drivers were compelled to declare the 
number of passengers in their stage, and 
in the event of failing to do so, gate-keep 
ers were allowed to charge the company 
for as many passengers as the stage could 
contain. 49 

48 Laws of Ohio, XXX, p. 8. 
/</., XXIX, p. 76. 
., XXX, p. 8. 

48 Id\ XXX, p. 7. 

/</., XXXII, p. 265; XXX, p. 7.^ 


Stage lines were permitted to compound 
for yearly passage of stages over the road 
and the large companies took advantage of 
the provision, though the passengers were 
counted by the gate-keepers. It may be 
seen that gate-keepers were in a position 
to embezzle large sums of money if they 
were so minded, and it is undoubted that 
this was done in more than one instance. 
Indeed, with a score and a half of gates, 
and a great many traveling on special rates, 
it would have been remarkable if some 
employed in all those years during which 
the toll system was in general operation 
did not steal. But this is lifting the veil 
from the good old days ! 

As will be seen later, the amounts 
handled by the gate-keepers were no small 
sums. In the best days of the road the 
average amount handled by tollgate-keep- 
ers in Pennsylvania was about eighteen 
hundred dollars per annum. In Ohio, with 
gates every ten miles, the average (reported) 
collection was about two thousand dollars 
in the best years. It is difficult to recon 
cile the statement made by Mr. Searight 
concerning the comparative amount of 


business done on various portions of the 
Cumberland Road, with the figures he 
himself quotes. He says: " It is estimated 
that two-fifths of the trade and travel of 
the road were diverted at Brownsville, and 
fell into the channel furnished at that point 
by the slackwater navigation of the Monon- 
gahela River, and a similar proportion 
descended the Ohio from Wheeling, and the 
remaining fifth continued on the road to 
Columbus, Ohio, and points further west. 
The travel west of Wheeling was chiefly 
local, and the road presented scarcely a 
tithe of the thrift, push, whirl and excite 
ment which characterized it east of that 
point." ^ On another page Mr. Searight 
gives the account of the old-time superin 
tendents of the road in Pennsylvania in its 
most prosperous era, one dating from 
November 10, 1 840 to November 10, 1841, 51 
the other from May i, 1843 to December 
31, i844. 52 In the first of these periods the 
amount of tolls received from the eastern 
division of the road (east of the Mononga- 
hela) is two thousand dollars less than the 

60 Searight s The Old Pike, p. 298. 
51 Id., pp. 362-366. 
52 Id., pp. 367-370. 


amount received from the western division. 
Even after the amounts paid by the two 
great stage companies are deducted, a bal 
ance of over a thousand dollars is left in 
favor of the division west of the Mononga- 
hela River. In the second report, $4, 242 . 3 7 
more was received on the western division 
of the road than on the eastern, and even 
after the amounts received from the stage 
companies are deducted, the receipts from 
the eastern division barely exceed those of 
the western. How can it be that " two- 
fifths of the trade and travel of the road 
were diverted at Brownsville?" And the 
further west Mr. Searight goes, the more 
does he seem to err, for the road west of 
the Ohio River, instead of showing 
" scarcely a tithe of the thrift, push, whirl 
and excitement which characterized it east 
of that point," seems to have done a 
greater business than the eastern portion. 
For instance, when the road was completed 
as many miles in Ohio as were built in 
Pennsylvania, the return from the portion 
in Ohio (1833) was $12, 259. 42-4 (in the very 
first year that the road was completed), 
while in Pennsylvania the receipts in 1840 


were only $18,429.25, after the road had 
been used for twenty-two years. In the 
same year (1840) Ohio collected $51,364.67 
from her Cumberland Road tollgates 
about three times the amount collected in 
Pennsylvania. Again Mr. Searight gives 
a Pennsylvania commissioner s receipts for 
the twenty months beginning May i, 1843, 
as $37, 109. n, while the receipts from the 
road in Ohio in only the twelve months of 
1843 were $32,157.02. At the same time 
the tolls charged in Ohio were a trifle in 
excess of those imposed in Pennsylvania, 
therefore, Ohio s advantage must be cur 
tailed slightly. On the other hand it 
should be taken into consideration that the 
Cumberland Road in Pennsylvania was 
almost the only road across the portion of 
the state through which it ran, while in Ohio 
other roads were used, especially clay roads 
running parallel with the Cumberland Road, 
by drivers of sheep and pigs, as an aged 
informant testifies. As Mr. Searight has 
said, the travel of the road west of the Ohio 
may have been chiefly of a local nature, yet 
his seeming error concerning the relative 
amount of travel on the two divisions in his 


own state, makes his statements less trust 
worthy in the matter. Still it can be read 
ily believed that a great deal of continental 
trade did pass down the Monongahela after 
traversing the eastern division of the road 
and that increased local trade on the west 
ern division rendered the toll receipts of 
the two divisions quite equal. Local travel 
on the eastern division may have been 
light, comparatively speaking. Mr. Sea- 
right undoubtedly meant that two-fifths of 
the through trade stopped at Brownsville 
and Wheeling and one- fifth only went on 
into Ohio. The total amount of tolls 
received by Pennsylvania from all roads, 
canals, etc., in 1836 was about $50,000, 
while Ohio received a greater sum than 
that in 1838 from tolls on the Cumberland 
Road alone, and the road was not completed 
further west than Springfield. 

A study of the amounts of tolls taken in 
from the Cumberland Road by the various 
states will show at once the volume of the 
business done. Ohio received from the 
Cumberland Road in forty-seven years 
nearly a million and a quarter dollars. An 
itemized list of this great revenue shows 


the varying fortunes of the great road 

Vffir Tnlh Vrnr Tnll* 






. $ 2,777 16 


. $ 6,105 o 


9,067 99 


6,105 oo 


. 12,25942-4 




. 12,693 65 


5,551 36 


16,442 26 


. 11,221 74 


27,455 13 


. 21,49241 


39>843 35 


19,000 oo 


- 5o>4i3 17 


. 20,000 oo 


. 63, 496 10 


20,000 oo 


. 51,36467 


. 20,000 oo 


36,95i 33 


19,000 oo 


. 44,656 18 


. 20,631 34 


. 32,15702 


. 18,93449 


. 30,801 13 


. 20,577 04 




19*635 75 


. 28,946 21 


. 19,244 oo 


. 42,614 59 


18,002 09 


. 49,025 66 


17*940 37 


46,253 38 


. 17,971 21 


37,060 1 1 


. 17,265 12 


. 44,063 65 


9,601 68 


. 36,727 26 


288 91 






$1*139*795 30-4 


6,105 oo 


About 1850 Ohio began leasing portions 
of the Cumberland Road to private com 
panies. In 1854 the entire distance from 
Springfield to the Ohio River was leased 
for a term of ten years for $6,105 a year. 
Commissioners were appointed to view the 
road continually and make the lessees keep 
it in as good condition as when it came into 
their hands. 53 Before the contract had half 
expired, the Board of Public Works was 
ordered (April, 1859) to take the roa d to 
relieve the lessees. 54 In 1870 the proper 
limits of the road were designated to be 
" a space of eighty feet in width, and where 
the road passed over a street in any city of 
the second class, the width should conform 
to the width of that street, such cities to 
own it so long as it was kept in repair. 55 

Finally, in 1876, the state of Ohio author 
ized commissioners of the several counties 
to take so much of the road as lay in each 
county under their control. It was stipu 
lated that tollgates should not average 
more than one in ten miles, and that no 

Laius of Ohio, LII, p. 126. 
"Ttf., LVI, p. 159. 
85 Id., LXX, p. 194. 


toll be collected between Columbus and 
the Ohio Central Lunatic Asylum. The 
county commissioners were to complete 
any unfinished portions of the road. 66 

Later (1877) the rates of toll were left to 
the discretion of the county commissioners, 
with this provision : 

11 That when the consent of the Congress 
of the United States shall have been ob 
tained thereto, the county commissioners 
of any county having a population under 
the last Federal census of more than fifteen 
thousand six hundred and less than fifteen 
thousand six hundred and fifty shall have 
the power when they deem it for the best 
interest of the road, or when the people 
whom the road accommodates wish, to sub 
mit to the legal voters of the county, at 
any regular or special election, the ques 
tion, Shall the National Road be a free 
turnpike road? And when the question is 
so submitted, and a majority of all those 
voting on said question shall vote yes, it 
shall be the duty of said commissioners to 
sell gates, tollhouses and any other prop 
erty belonging to the road to the highest 

*/</., LXXIII, p. 105. 


bidder, the proceeds of the sale to be 
applied to the repair of the road, and 
declare so much of the road as lies within 
their county a free turnpike road to be 
kept in repair in the way and manner 
provided by law for the repair of free turn 
pikes." 5r 

The receipts from the Franklin County, 
Ohio, tollgate for the year 1899 were as 
follows : 

January $36 oo 

February . . . . . 32 80 

March 39 90 

April 80 75 

May 67 25 

June . 54 85 

July . 47 15 

August . . 35 75 

September . . . . . 29 27 

October 29 26 

November . . . . 35 05 

December 34 05 

Total $522 08 

-It will be noted that April was the heavi 
est month of the year. The gate-keeper re- 
Laws of Ohio, LXXIV, p. 62. 


ceived a salary of thirty dollars per month. 
It is hardly necessary to say that this 
great American highway was never a self- 
supporting institution. The fact that it was 
estimated that the yearly expense of repair 
ing the Ohio division of the road was one 
hundred thousand dollars, while the great 
est amount of tolls collected in its most 
prosperous year (1839) was a little more 
than half that amount ($62,496.10) proves 
this conclusively. Investigation into the 
records of other states shows the same con 
dition. In the most prosperous days of the 
road, the tolls in Maryland (1837) amounted 
to $9,953 and the expenditures $9, 660. 5 1. 58 
In 1839 a "balance" was recorded of 
$1,509.08, but a like amount was charged 
up on the debtor side of the account. The 
receipts reported each year in the auditor s 
reports of the state of Ohio show that equal 
amounts were expended yearly upon the 
road. As early as 1832 the governor of 
Ohio was authorized to borrow money to 
repair the road in that state. 60 

5 * Report of the Superintendent of the National 
Road, with Abstract of Tolls for the fiscal year (1837). 
59 Laws of Ohio, XXX, p. 8. 




great work of building and keep 
ing in repair the Cumberland Road, 
and of operating it, developed a race 
of men as unknown before its era as after 
ward. For the real life of the road, how 
ever, one will look to the days of its 
prime to those who passed over its stately 
stretches and dusty coils as stage- and 
mail-coach drivers, express carriers and 
" wagoners," and the tens of thousands of 
passengers and immigrants who composed 
the public which patronized the great high 
way. This was the real life of the road 
coaches numbering as many as twenty 
traveling in a single line; wagonhouse 
yards where a hundred tired horses rested 
over night beside their great loads ; hotels 
where seventy transient guests have been 
served breakfast in a single morning; a 
life made cheery by the echoing horns of 


hurrying stages; blinded by the dust of 
droves of cattle numbering into the thou 
sands; a life noisy with the satisfactory 
creak and crunch of the wheels of great 
wagons carrying six and eight thousand 
pounds of freight east or west. 

The revolution of society since those 
days could not have been more surprising. 
The change has been so great it is a won 
der that men deign to count their gain by 
the same numerical system. As Macaulay 
has said, we do not travel today, we merely 
* arrive." You are hardly a traveler now 
unless you cross a continent. Travel was 
once an education. This is growing less 
and less true with the passing years. 
Fancy a journey from St. Louis to New 
York in the old coaching days, over the 
Cumberland and the old York Roads. How 
many persons the traveler met! How 
many interesting and instructive conversa 
tions were held with fellow travelers 
through the long hours; what customs, 
characters, foibles, amusing incidents 
would be noticed and remembered, ever 
afterward furnishing the information neces 
sary to help one talk well and the sympathy 


necessary to render one capable of listening 
to others. The traveler often sat at table 
with statesmen whom the nation honored, 
as well as with stagecoach-drivers whom a 
nation knew for their skill and prowess 
with six galloping horses. Henry Clays 
and " Red" Buntings dined together, and 
each made the other wiser, if not better. 
The greater the gulf grows between the 
rich and poor, the more ignorant do both 
become, particularly the rich. There was 
undoubtedly a monotony in stagecoach 
journeying, but the continual views of the 
landscape, the ever-fresh air, the constantly 
passing throngs of various description, 
made such traveling an experience un 
known to us "arrivers" of today. How 
fast it has been forgotten that travel means 
seeing people rather than things. The age 
of sight-seeing has superseded that of trav 
eling. How few of us can say with the 
New Hampshire sage: " We have traveled 
a great deal in Concord/ Splendidly 
are the old coaching days described by 
Thackeray, who caught their spirit: 

" The Island rang, as yet, with the toot 
ing horns and rattling teams of mail-coaches ; 


a gay sight was the road in merry England 
in those days, before steam-engines arose 
and flung its hostelry and chivalry over. 
To travel in coaches, to drive coaches, to 
know coachmen and guards, to be familiar 
with inns along the road, to laugh with the 
jolly hostess in the bar, to chuck the pretty 
chambermaid under the chin, were the 
delight of men who were young not very 
long ago. The Road was an institution, 
the Ring was an institution. Men rallied 
around them; and, not without a kind con 
servatism, expatiated upon the benefits 
with which they endowed the country, and 
the evils which would occur when they 
should be no more : decay of English 
spirit, decay of manly pluck, ruin of the 
breed of horses, and so forth, and so forth. 
To give and take a black eye was not un 
usual nor derogatory in a gentleman; to 
drive a stage-coach the enjoyment, the 
emulation of generous youth. Is there any 
young fellow of the present time who 
aspires to take the place of a stoker? You 
see occasionally in Hyde Park one dismal 
old drag with a lonely driver. Where are 
you, charioteers? Where are you, O rat- 


tling Quicksilver/ O swift Defiance? 
You are passed by racers stronger and 
swifter than you. Your lamps are out, 
and the music of your horns has died 
away." 60 

In the old coaching days the passenger- 
and mail-coaches were operated very much 
like the railways of today. A vast network 
of lines covered the land. Great companies 
owned hundreds of stages operating on 
innumerable routes, competing with other 
companies. These rival stage companies 
fought each other at times with great 
bitterness, and competed, as railways do 
today, in lowering tariff and in outdoing 
each other in points of speed and accom 
modation. 61 New inventions and appliances 
were eagerly sought in the hope of securing 
a larger share of public patronage. This 
competition extended into every phase of 
the business fast horses, comfortable 
coaches, well-known and companionable 
drivers, favorable connections. 

60 Thackeray s The Newcomes, vol. i, ch. x. 

61 In one instance a struggle between two stagecoach 
lines in Indiana resulted in carrying passengers from 
Richmond to Cincinnati for fifty cents. The regular 
price was five dollars. 


However, competition, as is always the 
case, sifted the competitors down to a small 
number. Companies which operated upon 
the Cumberland Road between Indianapolis 
and Cumberland became distinct in char 
acter and catered to a steady patronage 
which had its distinctive characteristics and 
social tone. This was in part determined 
by the taverns which the various lines 
patronized. Each line ordinarily stopped 
at separate taverns in every town. There 
were also found Grand Union taverns on the 
Cumberland Road. Had this system of 
communication not been abandoned, coach 
lines would have gone through the same 
experience that the railways have, and for 
very similar reasons. 

The largest coach line on the Cumber 
land Road was the National Road Stage 
Company, whose most prominent member 
was Lucius W. Stockton. The headquar 
ters of this line were at the National House 
on Morgantown Street, Uniontown, Penn 
sylvania. The principal rival of the 
National Road Stage Company was the 
" Good Intent" line, owned by Shriver, 
Steele, and Company, with headquarters at 


the McClelland House, Uniontown. The 
Ohio National Stage Company, with head 
quarters at Columbus, Ohio, operated on 
the western division of the road. There 
were many smaller lines, as the " Land 
lords," " Pilot," " Pioneer," " Defiance," 
" June Bug," etc. 

Some of the first lines of stages were 
operated in sections, each section having 
different proprietors who could sell out at 
any time. The greater lines were con 
stantly absorbing smaller lines and extend 
ing their ramifications in all directions. It 
will be seen there were trusts even in the 
1 1 good old days of stagecoaches, when 
smaller firms were gobbled up and 
driven out as happens today, and will 
ever happen in mundane history, despite 
the nonsense of political garblers. One of 
the largest stage companies on the old road 
was Neil, Moore, and Company of Colum 
bus, which operated hundreds of stages 
throughout Ohio. It was unable to com 
pete with the Ohio National Stage Company 
to which it finally sold out, Mr. Neil 
becoming one of the magnates of the latter 
company, which was, compared with cor- 


porations of its time, a greater trust than 
anything known in Ohio today. 62 

To know what the old coaches really 
were, one should see and ride in one. It 
is doubtful if a single one now remains 
intact. Here and there inquiry will raise 
the rumor of an old coach still standing on 
wheels, but if the rumor is traced to its 
source, it will be found that the chariot 
was sold to a circus or wild west show or 
has been utterly destroyed. The demand 
for the old stages has been quite lively on 
the part of the wild west shows. These old 
coaches were handsome affairs in their 
day painted and decorated profusely 
without, and lined within with soft silk 
plush. 63 There were ordinarily three seats 

62 An old Ohio National Stage driver, Mr. Samuel B. 
Baker of Kirkersville, Ohio, is authority for the state 
ment that the Ohio National Stage Company put a line 
of stages on the Wooster-Wheeling mail and freight 
route and ran out the line which had been doing all 
the business previously, after an eight months bitter 

63 The following appeared in the Ohio State Journal 
of August 12, 1837: "A SPLENDID COACH We have 
looked at a Coach now finishing off in the shop of Messrs. 
Evans & Pinney of this city, for the Ohio Stage Com 
pany, and intended we believe for the inspection of the 
Post-Master General, who sometime since offered pre- 


inside, each capable of holding three pas 
sengers. Upon the driver s high outer 
seat was room for one more passenger, a 
fortunate position in good weather. The 
best coaches, like their counterparts on the 
railways of today, were named ; the names 
of states, warriors, statesmen, generals, 
nations, and cities, besides fanciful names, as 
" Jewess," " Ivanhoe," " Sultana," "Loch 
Lomond," were called into requisition.- 

The first coaches to run on the Cumber 
land Road were long, awkward affairs, 
without braces or springs, and with seats 
placed crosswise. The door was in front, 
and passengers, on entering, had to climb 
over the seats. These first coaches were 
made at Little Crossings, Pennsylvania. 

The bodies of succeeding coaches were 
placed upon thick, wide leathern straps 
which served as springs and which were 

miums for models of the most approved construction, 
which is certainly one of the most perfect and splendid 
specimens of workmanship in this line that we have 
ever beheld, and would be a credit to any Coach Manu 
factory in the United States. It is aimed, in its con 
struction, to secure the mail in the safest manner 
possible, under lock and key, and to accommodate three 
outside passengers under a comfortable and complete 
protection from the weather. It is worth going to see. 


called 4 thorough braces. At either end 
of the body was the driver s boot and the 
baggage boot. The first * Troy coach 
put on the road came in 1829. It was a 
great novelty, but some hundreds of them 
were soon throwing the dust of Maryland 
and Pennsylvania into the air. Their cost 
then was between four and six hundred 
dollars. The harness used on the road 
was of giant proportions. The backhands 
were often fifteen inches wide, and the hip 
bands, ten. The traces were chains with 
short thick links and very heavy. 

But the passenger traffic of the Cumber 
land Road bore the same relation to the 
freight traffic as passenger traffic does to 
freight on the modern railway a small 
item, financially considered. It was for 
the great wagons and their wagoners to 
haul over the mountains and distribute 
throughout the west the products of mill and 
factory and the rich harvests of the fields. 
And this great freight traffic created a race 
of men of its own, strong and daring, as 
they well had need to be. The fact that 
teamsters of these * * mountain ships had 
taverns or wagon houses of their own, 


where they stopped, tended to separate 
them into a class by themselves. These 
wagonhouses were far more numerous than 
the taverns along the road, being found as 
often as one in every mile or two. Here, 
in the commodious yards, the weary horses 
and their swarthy Jehus slept in the open 
air. In winter weather the men slept on 
the floors of the wagonhouses. In summer 
many wagoners carried their own cooking 
utensils. In the suburbs of the towns 
along the road they would pull their teams 
out into the roadside and pitch camp, send 
ing into the village to replenish their stores. 
The bed of the old road freighter was 
long and deep, bending upward at the bot 
tom at either end. The lower broad side 
was painted blue, with a movable board 
inserted above, painted red. The top 
covering was white canvas drawn over 
broad wooden bows. Many of the wagon 
ers hung bells of a shape much similar to 
dinner bells on a thin iron arch over the 
hames of the harness. Often the number 
of bells indicated the prowess of a team 
ster s horses, as the custom prevailed, in 
certain parts, that when a team became 


fast, or was unable to make the grade, the 
wagoner rendering the necessary assistance 
appropriated all the bells of the luckless 

The wheels of the freighters were of a 
size proportionate to the rest of the wagon. 
The first wagons used on the old roads had 
narrow rims, but it was not long before the 
broad rims, or " broad-tread wagons," 
came into general use by those who made 
a business of freighting. The narrow rims 
were always used by farmers, who, during 
the busiest season on the road, deserted 
their farms for the high wages temporarily 
to be made, and who in consequence were 
dubbed " sharpshooters " by the regulars. 
The width of the broad-tread wheels was 
four inches. As will be noted, tolls for 
broad wheels were less than for the narrow 
ones which tended to cut the roadbed more 
deeply. One ingenious inventor planned 
to build a wheel with a rim wide enough to 
pass the tollgates free. The model was a 
wagon which had the rear axle four inches 
shorter than the front, making a track eight 
inches in width. Nine horses were hitched 
to this wagon, three abreast. The team 


caused much comment, but was not voted 

The loads carried on the mountain ships 
were very large. An Ohio man, McBride 
by name, in the winter of 1848 went over 
the mountains with seven horses, taking a 
load of nine hogsheads weighing an aver 
age of one thousand pounds each. 

The following description is from the 
St. Clairsville (Ohio) Gazette of 1835 : 

" It was a familiar saying with Sam 
Patch that some things can be done easier than 
others, and this fact was forcibly brought to 
our mind by seeing a six-horse team pass our 
office on Wednesday last, laden with eleven 
hogsheads of tobacco, destined for Wheeling. 
Some speculation having gone forth as to 
its weight, the driver was induced to test 
it on the hayscales in this place, and it 
amounted to 13,280 Ibs. gross weight net 
weight 10,375. This team (owned by Gen 
eral C. Hoover of this county) took the 
load into Wheeling with ease, having a hill 
to ascend from the river to the level of the 
town, of eight degrees. The Buckeyes of 
Belmont may challenge competition in this 


Teamsters received good wages, especi 
ally when trade was brisk. From Browns 
ville to Cumberland they often received 
$1.25 a hundred; $2.25 per hundred has 
been paid for a load hauled from Wheeling 
to Cumberland. 64 The stage-drivers re 
ceived twelve dollars a month with board 
and lodging. Usually the stage-drivers 
had one particular route between two towns 
about twelve miles apart on which they 
drove year after year, and learned it as 
well as trainmen know their " runs " today. 
The life was hard, but the dash and spirit 
rendered it as fascinating as railway life is 

frar better time was made by these old 
conveyances than many realize. Ten miles 
an hour was an ordinary rate of speed. A 
stage-driver was dismissed more quickly 
for making slow time, than for being guilty 
of intoxication, though either offense was 

64 Before the era of the Cumberland Road the price for 
hauling the goods of emigrants over Braddock s Road 
was very high. One emigrant paid $5.33 per hundred 
for hauling " women and goods " from Alexandria, Vir 
ginia, to the Monongahela. Six dollars per hundred 
weight was charged one emigrant from Hagerstown, 
Maryland, to Terre Haute, Indiana. 


considered worthy of dismissal. The way 
bills handed to the drivers with the reins 
often bore the words: " Make this time or 
we ll find some one who will." Competi 
tion in the matter of speed was as intense 
as it is now in the days of steam. A thou 
sand legends of these rivalries still linger 
in story and tradition. Defeated competi 
tors were held accountable by their com 
panies and the loads or condition of their 
horses were seldom accepted as excuses; 
Couplets were often conjured up containing 
some brief story of defeat with a cutting 
sting for the vanquished driver: 

" If you take a seat in Stockton s line 
You are sure to be passed by Pete Burdine." 


" Said Billy Willis to Peter Burdine 
You had better wait for the oyster line." 

According to a contemporary account, 
in September, 1837, Van Buren s presi 
dential message was carried from Baltimore 
(Canton Depot) to Philadelphia, a distance 
of one hundred and forty miles, in four 
hours and forty-three minutes. Seventy 
miles of the journey was done by rail, 
three by boat, and eighty-seven by horse. 


The seventy-three by rail and boat occu 
pied one hundred and seventeen minutes 
and the eighty-seven by horse occupied the 
remaining two hundred and twenty-six 
minutes, or each mile in about two minutes 
and a half. This time must be considered 
remarkable. The mere fact that these fig 
ures are not at all consistent need occasion 
no alarm; they form the most consistent 
part of the story. 

The news of the death of William the 
Fourth of England, which occurred June 
20, 1837, was printed in Columbus, Ohio 
papers July 28. It was not until 1847 that 
the capital of Ohio was connected with the 
world by telegraph wires. 

Time-tables of passenger coaches were 
published as railway time-tables are today. 
The following is a Cumberland Road time 
table printed at Columbus for the winter 
of 1835-1836: 



THE OLD STAGE LINES with all their 
different connections throughout the state, 
continue as heretofore. 


THE MAIL PILOT LINE, leaves Columbus 
for Wheeling daily, at 6 A. M., reaching 
Zanesville at i P. M. and Wheeling at 6 A. 
M. next day, through in 24 hours, allowing 
five hours repose at St. Clairsville. 

bus for Wheeling, daily at i P. M., through 
in 20 hours, reaching Wheeling in time to 
connect with the stages for Baltimore and 

THE MAIL PILOT LINE, leaves Columbus 
daily, for Cincinnati at 8 A. M., through 
in 36 hours, allowing six hours repose at 

Extras furnished on the above routes at 
any hour when required. 

THE EAGLE LINE, leaves Columbus every 
other day, for Cleveland, through in 40 
hours, via Mt. Vernon and Wooster. 

THE TELEGRAPH LINE leaves Columbus 
for Sandusky City, every other day at 5 A. 
M., through in two days, allowing rest at 
Marion, and connecting there with the line 
to Detroit, via Lower Sandusky. 

THE PHOENIX LINE, leaves Columbus 
every other day, for Huron, via Mt. Vernon 
and Norwalk, through in 48 hours. 


leaves Columbus, for Chillicothe at 5 A. 
M., connecting there with the line to Mays- 
ville, Ky., and Portsmouth. 

For seats apply at the General Stage 
Office, next door to Col. Noble s National 

T. C. ACHESON, for the proprietor. 

The following advertisement of an oppo 
sition line, running in 1837, is an interest 
ing suggestion of the intense spirit of 
rivalry which was felt as keenly, if not 
more so, as in our day of close competi 




FROM WHEELING, VA. to Cincinnati, O. 
via Zanesville, Columbus, Springfield and 
intermediate points. 

Through in less time than any other line. 
" By opposition the people are well served." 

The Defiance Fast Line connects at 
Wheeling, Va. with Reside & Co. s Two 


Superior daily lines to Baltimore, McNair 
and Co. s Mail Coach line, via Bedford, 
Chambersburg and the Columbia and Har- 
risburg Rail Roads to Philadelphia, being 
the only direct line from Wheeling : also 
with the only coach line from Wheeling to 
Pittsburg, via Washington, Pa., and with 
numerous cross lines in Ohio. 

The proprietors having been released on 
the ist inst. from burthen of carrying the 
great mail, (which will retard any line) are 
now enabled to run through in a shorter 
time than any other line on the road. 
They will use every exertion to accom 
modate the traveling public. With stock 
infinitely superior to any on the road, they 
flatter themselves they will be able to give 
general satisfaction; and believe the public 
are aware, from past experience, that a 
liberal patronage to the above line will 
prevent impositions in high rates of fare 
by any stage monopoly. 

The proprietors of the Defiance Fast Line 
are making the necessary arrangements to 
stock the Sandusky and Cleveland Routes 
also from Springfield to Dayton which 
will be done during the month of July. 


All baggage and parcels only received at 
the risk of the owners thereof. 

JNO. W. WEAVER & Co., 
From Wheeling to Columbus, Ohio. 

From Columbus to Cincinnati. 

There was always danger in riding at 
night, especially over the mountains, 
where sometimes a misstep would cost a 
life. The following item from a letter 
written in 1837 tells of such an incident: 

11 One of the Reliance line of stages, 
from Frederick to the West, passed through 
here on its way to Cumberland. About 
ten o clock the ill-fated coach reached a 
small spur of the mountain, running to the 
Potomac, and between this place and Han 
cock, termed Millstone Point, where the 
driver mistaking the track, reined his 
horses too near the edge of the precipice, 
and in the twinkling of an eye, coach, 


horses, driver, and passengers were precip 
itated upward of thirty-five feet onto a 
bed of rock below the coach was dashed 
to pieces, and two of the horses killed - 
literally smashed. 

A respectable elderly lady of the name 
of Clarke, of Louisville, Kentucky, and a 
negro child were crushed to death and a 
man so dreadfully mangled that his life is 
flickering on his lips only. His face was 
beaten to a mummy. The other passengers 
and the driver were woefully bruised, but 
it is supposed they are out of danger. 
There were seven in number. 

" I cannot gather that any blame was 
attached to the driver. It is said that he 
was perfectly sober; but he and his horses 
were new to this road, and the night was 
foggy and very dark." 

An act of the legislature of Ohio required 
that every stagecoach used for the convey 
ance of passengers in the night should have 
two good lamps affixed in the usual man 
ner, and subjected the owner to a fine of 
from ten to thirty dollars for every forty- 
eight hours the coach was not so provided. 
Drivers of coaches who should drive in the 


night when the track could not be distinctly 
seen without having the lamps lighted were 
subject to a forfeiture of from five to ten 
dollars for each offense. The same act 
provided that drivers guilty of intoxication, 
so as to endanger the safety of passengers, 
on written notice of a passenger on oath, 
to the owner or agent, should be forthwith 
discharged, and subjected the owner contin 
uing to employ that driver more than 
three days after such notice to a forfeiture 
of fifty dollars a day. 

Stage proprietors were required to keep 
a printed copy of the act posted up in their 
offices, under a penalty of five dollars. 

Another act of the Ohio legislature sub 
jected drivers who should leave their horses 
without being fastened, to a fine of not over 
twenty dollars. 

As has been intimated, passengers pur 
chased their tickets of the stage company 
in whose stage they embarked, and the 
tolls were included in the price of the 
ticket. A paper resembling a waybill was 
made out by the agent of the line at the 
starting point. This paper was given to 
the driver and delivered by him to the 


landlord at each station upon the arrival of 
the coach. This paper contained the names 
and destinations of the passengers carried, 
the sums paid as fare and the time of depar 
ture, and contained blank squares for regis 
tering time of arrival and departure from 
each station. The fares varied slightly but 
averaged about four cents a mile. 



THE most important official function 
of the Cumberland Road was to fur 
nish means of transporting the 
United States mails. The strongest con 
stitutional argument of its advocates was 
the need of facilities for transporting troops 
and mails. The clause in the constitution 
authorizing the establishment of post roads 
was interpreted by them to include any 
measure providing quick and safe transmis 
sion of the mails. As has been seen, it 
was finally considered by many to include 
building and operating railways with funds 
appropriated for the Cumberland Road. 

The great mails of seventy-five years ago 
were operated on very much the same prin 
ciple on which mails are operated today. 
The Post Office Department at Washington 
contracted with the great stage lines for 
the transmission of the mails by yearly 


contracts, a given number of stages with a 
given number of horses to be run at given 
intervals, to stop at certain points, at a fixed 
yearly compensation, usually determined 
by the custom of advertising for bids and 
accepting the lowest offered. 

When the system of mailcoach lines 
reached its highest perfection, the mails 
were handled as they are today. The 
great mails that passed over the Cumber 
land Road were the Great Eastern and the 
Great Western mails out of St. Louis and 
Washington. A thousand lesser mail lines 
connected with the Cumberland Road at 
every step, principally those from Cincin 
nati in Ohio, and from Pittsburg in Penn 
sylvania. There were through and way 
mails, also mails which carried letters only, 
newspapers going by separate stage. There 
was also an Express Mail corresponding 
to the present " fast mail." 

It is probably not realized what rapid 
time was made by the old-time stage and 
express mails over the Cumberland Road 
to the Central West. Even compared with 
the fast trains of today, the express mails 
of sixty years ago, when conditions were 


favorable, made marvelous time. In 1837 
the Post Office Department required, in 
the contract for carrying the Great Western 
Express Mail from Washington over the 
Cumberland Road to Columbus and St. 
Louis, that the following time be made : 
Wheeling, Virginia . . 30 hours. 
Columbus, Ohio . . . 45^ " 
Indianapolis, Indiana . 
Vandalia, Illinois . 
St. Louis, Missouri . .94 " 
At the same time the ordinary mail- 
coaches, which also served as passenger 
coaches, made very much slower time : 
Wheeling, Virginia . 2 days 1 1 hours. 
Columbus, Ohio . 3 " 16 " 
Indianapolis, Indiana 6 " 20 " 
Vandalia, Illinois . 9 " 10 " 
St. Louis, Missouri .10 " 4 " 

Cities off the road were reached, in the 
following time from Washington : 

Cincinnati, Ohio . . .60 hours. 

Frankfort, Kentucky . .72 " 

Louisville, Kentucky . .78 " 

Nashville, Tennessee . . 100 " 
Huntsville, Alabama . 


The ordinary mail to these points made 
the following time: 

Cincinnati, Ohio . 4 days 18 hours. 

Frankfort, Kentucky 6 " 18 " 

Louisville, Kentucky 6 " 23 " 

Nashville, Tennessee 8 " 16 " 

Huntsville, Alabama 10 " 21 " 

The Post Office Department had given 
its mail contracts to the steamship lines in 
the east, when possible, from Boston to 
Portland and New York to Albany. One 
mail route to the southern states, however, 
passed over the Cumberland Road and 
down to Cincinnati, where it went on to 
Louisville and the Mississippi ports by 
packet. The following time was made by 
this Great Southern Mail from Louisville: 

Nashville, Tennessee . .21 hours. 

Mobile, Alabama . . 80 " 

New Orleans, Louisiana . 105 " 

The service rendered to the south and 
southwest by the Cumberland Road, was 
not rendered to the northwest, as might 
have been expected. Chicago and Detroit 
were difficult to bring into easy communi 
cation with the east. Until the railway was 


completed from Albany to Buffalo, the 
mails went very slowly to the northwest 
from New York. The stage line from 
Buffalo to Cleveland and on west over the 
terrible Black Swamp road to Detroit was 
one of the worst in the United States. 
When lake navigation became closed, com 
munication with northwestern Ohio, Michi 
gan, Wisconsin and northern Indiana and 
Illinois was almost cut off. Had the stage 
route followed that of the buffalo and 
Indian on the high ground occupied by the 
Mahoning Indian trail from Pittsburg to 
Detroit, a far more excellent service might 
have been at the disposal of the Post Office 
Department. As it was, stagehorses floun 
dered in the Black Swamp with " mud up 
to the horses bridles," where a half dozen 
mails were often congested, and " six 
horses were barely sufficient to draw a two- 
wheeled vehicle fifteen miles in three 
days." 65 

The old time-tables of the Cumberland 
Road make an interesting study. One of 
^Ohio State Journal, February 9, 1838. " The land 
mail between this and Detroit crawls with snails pace." 
Cleveland Gazette, August 31, 1837. Cf. Historic 
Highways of America, vol. i., p. 29. 


the first of these published after the great 
stage lines were in operation over the entire 
road and the southern branch to Cincinnati, 
appeared early in the year 1833. By this 
schedule the Great Eastern Mail left Wash 
ington daily at 7 P. M. and Baltimore at 9 
P. M. and arrived in Wheeling, on the 
Ohio River, in fifty-five hours. Leaving 
Wheeling at 4: 30 A. M., it arrived in 
Columbus at five the morning following, 
and in Cincinnati at the same hour the 
next morning, making forty-eight hours 
from one point on the river to the other, 
much better time than any packet could 
make. The Great Western Mail left 
Cincinnati daily at 2 P. M. and reached 
Columbus at i P. M. on the day following. 
It left Columbus at i : 30 P. M. and reached 
Wheeling at 2 : 30 P. M. the day following, 
thence Washington in fifty-five hours. 66 

66 The northern and southern Ohio mails connected 
with the Great Eastern and Great Western mails at 
Columbus. They were operated as follows : 

NORTHERN MAIL: Left Sandusky City 4 A. M., reached 
Delaware 8 P. M. Left Delaware next day 3 A. M., 
reached Columbus 8 A. M. Left Columbus 8 : 30 A. M. , 
reached Chillicothe 4 P. M. Left Chillicothe next day 4 
A. M., reached Portsmouth 3 P. M. 

SOUTHERN MAIL: Left Portsmouth 9 A. M., Chillicothe 


At times the mails on the Cumberland 
Road were greatly delayed, taxing the 
patience of the public beyond endurance. 
The road itself was so well built that rain 
had little effect upon it as a rule. In fact, 
delay of the mails was more often due to 
inefficiency of the Post Office Department, 
inefficiency of the stage line service, or 
failure of contractors, than poor roads. 
Until a bridge was built across the Ohio 
River at Wheeling, in 1836, mails often 
became congested, especially when iee was 
running out. There were frequent derange 
ments of cross and way mails which affected 
seriously the efficiency of the service. The 
vast number of connecting mails on the 
Cumberland Road made regularity in trans 
mission of cross mails confusing, especially 
if the through mails were at all irregular. 

To us living in the present age of tele 
graphic communication and the ubiquitous 

5 P. M., Columbus i P. M., day following. Delaware 
7 P. M., Sandusky City 7 P. M. day following. A Cleve 
land mail left Cleveland daily for Columbus via Wooster 
and Mt. Vernon at 3 A. M. and reached Columbus on 
the day following at 5 P. M., returning the mail left 
Colum bus at 4 A. M. and reached Cleveland at 5 P. M. 
on the ensuing day. 


daily paper, it may not occur that the mail 
stages of the old days were the newsboys 
of the age, and that thousands looked to 
their coming for the first word of news 
from distant portions of the land. In times 
of war or political excitement the express 
mailstage and its precious load of papers 
from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New 
York, was hailed as the latest editions of 
our newspapers are today. Thus it must 
have been that a greater proportion of the 
population along the Cumberland Road 
awaited with eager interest the coming of 
the stage in the old days, than today await 
the arrival of the long mail trains from the 

Late in the 30*5 and in the 40*3, when 
the mailstage system reached its highest 
perfection, the mail and passenger service 
had been entirely separated, special stages 
being constructed for hauling the former. 
As early as 1837 the Post Office Department 
decreed that the mails, which heretofore 
had always been held as of secondary con 
sideration compared with passengers, should 
be carried in specially arranged vehicles, 
into which the postmaster should put them 


under lock and key not to be opened until 
the next post office was reached. These 
stages were of two kinds, designed to be 
operated upon routes where the mail ordi 
narily comprised, respectively, a half and 
nearly a whole load. In the former, room 
was left for six passengers, in the latter, 
for three. Including newspapers with the 
regular mail, the later stages which ran 
westward over the Cumberland Road rarely 
carried passengers. Indeed there was 
little room for the guards who traveled 
with the driver to protect the government 
property. Many old drivers of the " Bos 
ton Night Mail," or the " New York Night 
Mail," or " Baltimore Mail," may yet be 
found along the old road, who describe the 
immense loads which they carried westward 
behind flying steeds. Such a factor in the 
mailstage business did the newspapers 
become, that many contractors refused to 
carry them by express mail, consigning 
them to the ordinary mails, thereby bring 
ing down upon themselves the frequent 
savage maledictions of a host of local 
editors. 67 
""The extreme irregularity which has attended the 


Newspapers were, nevertheless, carried 
by express mailstages as far west as Ohio 
in 1837, as is proved by a newspaper account 
of a robbery committed on the Cumberland 
Road, the robbers holding up an express 
mailstage and finding nothing in it but 
newspapers. 68 

The mails on the Cumberland Road were 
always in danger of being assailed by rob 
bers, especially on the mountainous portions 
of the road at night. Though by dint of 
lash and ready revolver the doughty drivers 
usually came off safely with their charge. 

transmission of newspapers from one place to another 
for several months past has been a subject of general 
complaint with the editors of all parties. It was to have 
been expected that, after the adjournment of Congress, 
the evil would have ceased to exist. Such, however, is 
not the case. Although the roads are now pretty good, 
and the mails arrive in due season, our eastern exchange 
papers seem to reach us only by chance. On Tuesday 
last, for instance, we received, among others, the follow 
ing, viz., The New York Courier and Enquirer of 
March i, 5 and 19; the Philadelphia Times and Satur 
day Evening Post of March 2; the United States 
Gazette of March 6 ; and the New Jersey Journal of 
March 5 and 19. The cause of this irregularity, we 
have reason to believe, does not originate in this state." 
Ohio State Journal, March 30, 1833. 
State Journal, August 9, 1837 



SO distinctive was the character of the 
Cumberland Road that all which per 
tained to it was highly characteristic. 
Next to the race of men which grew up 
beside its swinging stretches, nothing had 
a more distinctive tone than the taverns 
which offered cheer and hospitality to its 
surging population. 

The origin of taverns in the East was 
very dissimilar from their history in the 
West. The first taverns in the West were 
those which did service on the old Brad- 
dock s Road. Unlike the taverns of New 
England, which were primarily drinking 
places, sometimes closing at nine in the 
evening, and not professing, originally, to 
afford lodging, the tavern in the West arose 
amid the forest to answer all the needs of 
travelers. It may be said that every cabin 
in all the western wilderness was a tavern, 


where, if there was a lack of " bear and 
cyder "there was an abundance of dried 
deer meat and Indian meal and a warm 
fireplace before which to spread one s 
blankets. 69 

The first cabins on the old route from 
the Potomac to the Ohio were at the Wills 
Creek settlement (Cumberland) and Gist s 
clearing, where Washington stopped on his 
Le Bceuf trip on the buffalo trace not far 
from the summit of Laurel Hill. After 
Braddock s Road was built, and the first 
roads were opened between Uniontown and 
Brownsville, Washington and Wheeling, 
during the Revolutionary period, a score 
of taverns sprang up the first of the kind 
west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

The oldest tavern on Braddock s Road 
was Tomlinson s Tavern near " Little 
Meadows," eight miles west of the present 
village of Frostburg, Maryland. 

At this point the lines of Braddock s 
Road and the Cumberland Road coincide. 

69 It may be found upon investigation that the por 
tions of our country most noted for hospitality are those 
where taverns gained the least hold as a social institu 
tion. Cf. Allen s The Blue Grass Region of Kentucky, 
p. 38. 


On land owned by him along the old mili 
tary road Jesse Tomlinson erected a tavern. 
When the Cumberland Road was built, his 
first tavern was deserted and a new one 
built near the old site. Another tavern, 
erected by one Fenniken, stood on both the 
line of the military road and the Cumber 
land Road, two miles west of Smithfield 
(" Big Crossings") where the two courses 
were identical. 

The first taverns erected upon the road 
which followed the portage path from 
Uniontown to Brownsville were Collin s 
Log Tavern and Rollin s Tavern, erected 
in Uniontown in 1781 and 1783, respect 
ively. These taverns offered primitive 
forms of hospitality to the growing stream 
of sojourners over the rough mountain path 
to the Youghiogheny at Brownsville, where 
boats could be taken for the growing metrop 
olis of Pittsburg. Another tavern in the 
West was located on this road ten miles 
west of Uniontown. As the old century 
neared its close a score of taverns sprang 
up on the road from Uniontown to Browns 
ville and on the road from Brownsville 
to Wheeling. At least three old taverns 


are still remembered at West Browns 
ville. Hill s stone tavern was erected at 
Hillsboro in 1 794. Catfish Camp, James 
Wilson s tavern at Washington, the first 
tavern in that historic town, was built in 
1781 and operated eleven years for the 
benefit of the growing tide of pioneers who 
chose to embark on the Ohio at Wheeling 
rather than on the Monongahela at Browns 
ville. Other taverns at Washington before 
1800 were McCormack s (1788), Sign of the 
White Goose (1791), Buck Tavern (1796), 
Sign of the Spread Eagle, and Globe Inn 
(1797). The Gregg Tavern and the famous 
old Workman House at Uniontowii were 
both erected in the last years of the old 
century, 1797-1799. Two miles west of 
Rankintown, Smith s Stone Tavern stood 
on the road to Wheeling, and the Sign of 
the American Eagle (1796) offered lodging 
at West Alexander, several years before 
the old century closed. West of the Ohio 
River, on Zane s rough blazed track through 
the scattered Ohio settlements toward Ken 
tucky, travelers found, as has been else 
where noted, entertainment at Zane s 
clearings, at the fords of the Muskingum 


and Scioto, and at the little settlement at 
Cincinnati. Before the quarter of a century 
elapsed ere the Cumberland Road crossed 
the Ohio River, a number of taverns were 
erected on the line of the road which was 
built over the course of Zane s Trace. On 
this first wagon-road west of the Ohio River 
the earliest taverns were at St. Clairsville 
and Zanesville. At this latter point the 
road turned southwest, following Zane s 
Trace to Lancaster, Chillicothe, and Mays- 
ville, Kentucky. The first tavern on this 
road was opened at Zanesville during the 
last year of the old century, Mclntire s 
Hotel. In the winter of the same year, 
1799, Green s Tavern was built, in which, 
it is recorded, the Fourth of July celebra 
tion in the following year was held. 
Cordery s Tavern followed, and David Har 
vey built a tavern in 1800. The first 
license for a tavern in St. Clairsville was 
issued to Jacob Haltz, February 23, 1802. 
Two other licenses were issued that year 
to John Thompson and Bazil Israel. 
Barnes s Tavern was opened in 1803. 
William Gibson, Michael Groves, Sterling 
Johnson, Andrew Moore, and Andrew 


Marshall kept tavern in the first half decade 
of this century. As elsewhere noted, there 
was no earlier road between Zanesville and 
Columbus which the Cumberland Road 
followed. West of Zanesville but one tav 
ern was opened in the first decade of this 
century. Griffith Foos s tavern at Spring 
field, which was doing business in 1801, 
prospered until 1814. The other taverns 
of the West, at Zanesville, Columbus, 
Springfield, Richmond (Indiana), and Indi 
anapolis, are of another era and will be 
mentioned later. 

The first taverns of the West were built 
mostly of logs, though a few, as noted, were 
of stone. They were ordinary wilderness 
cabins, rendered professionally hospitable 
by stress of circumstance. They were 
more often of but one or two rooms, where, 
before the fireplace, guests were glad to 
sleep together upon the puncheon floor. 
The fare afforded was such as hunters 
had game from the surrounding forest 
and neighboring streams and the product 
of the little clearing, potatoes, and the 
common cereals. 

At the beginning of the new century a 


large number of substantial taverns arose 
beside the first western roads even be 
fore the Cumberland Road was under way. 
The best known of these were built at 
Washington, The Sign of the Cross Keys 
(1801), the McClellan (1802); and at Union- 
town the National and Walker Houses. At 
Washington arose The Sign of the Golden 
Swan (1806), Sign of the Green Tree (1808), 
Gen. Andrew Jackson (1813), and Sign of 
the Indian Queen (1815). These were built 
in the age of sawmills and some of them 
came well down through the century. 

It is remarkable how many buildings are 
to be seen on the Cumberland Road which 
tell by their architectural form the story 
of their fortunes. Many a tavern, out 
growing the day of small things, was found 
to be wholly inadequate to the greater busi 
ness of the new era. Additions were made 
as circumstances demanded, and in some 
cases the result is very interesting. The 
Seaton House in Uniontown was built in 
sections, as was the old Fulton House (now 
Moran House) also of Uniontown. A fine 
old stone tavern at Maiden, Pennsylvania 
was erected in 1822 and an addition made 


in 1830. A stone slab in the second section 
bears the date " 1830," also the word 
" Liberty," and a rude drawing of a plow 
and sheaf of wheat. Though of more 
recent date, the well-known Four Mile 
House west of Columbus, Ohio displays, 
by a series of additions, the record of its 
prosperous days, when the neighboring 
Camp Chase held its population of Con 
federate prisoners. 

Among the more important taverns 
which became the notable hostelries of the 
Cumberland Road should be mentioned the 
Black, American, Mountain Spring, and 
Pennsylvania Houses at Cumberland; 
Plumer Tavern and Six Mile House west 
of Cumberland; Franklin and Highland 
Hall Houses of Frostburg; Lehman and 
Shulty Houses at Grantsville ; Thistle Tav 
ern at the eastern foot of Negro Mountain, 
and Hablitzell s stone tavern at the sum 
mit; The Stoddard House on the summit 
of Keyser s Ridge; the stone tavern near 
the summit of Winding Ridge, and the 
Wable stand on the western slope; the 
Wentling and Hunter Houses at Peters 
burg; the Temple of Juno two miles 


westward; the Endsley House and Camel 
Tavern at Smithfield (Big Crossings); a 
tavern on Mt. Augusta; the Rush, Inks, 
and John Rush Houses, Sampey s Tavern 
at Great Meadows; the Braddock Run 
House; Downer Tavern; Snyder s Tavern 
at eastern foot of Laurel Hill, and the 
Summit House at the top; Shipley and 
Monroe Houses and Norris Tavern east of 
Uniontown, and Searight s Tavern six 
miles west; Johnson- Hatfield House; the 
Brashear, Marshall, Clark and Monongahela 
Houses at Brownsville; Adam s Tavern; 
Key s and Greenfield s Taverns at Bealls- 
ville; Gall s House; Hastings and the 
Upland House at the foot of Egg Nogg 
Hill; Ringland s Tavern at Pancake; the 
Fulton House, Philadelphia, and Kentucky 
Inn and Travellers Inn at Washington; 
Rankin and Smith Taverns; Cald well s 
Tavern; Brown s and Watkin s Taverns at 
Claysville; Beck s Tavern at West Alex 
ander; the Stone Tavern at Roney s Point 
and the United States Hotel and Monroe 
House at Wheeling. 

West of the Ohio were Rhode s and 
McMahon s Taverns at Bridgeport; Hoo- 


ver s Tavern near St. Clairsville; Cham 
berlain s Tavern; Christopher Hoover s 
Tavern, one mile west of Morristown; 
Taylor s Tavern ; Gleave s Tavern and 
Stage Office; Bradshaw s Hotel at Fair- 
view; Drake s Tavern at Middleton; Sign 
of the Black Bear at Washington; Carran s, 
McDonald s, McKinney s and Wilson s 
Taverns in Guernsey County and the Ten 
Mile House at Norwich, ten miles east of 
Zanesville. In Zanesville, Robert Taylor 
opened a tavern in 1805, and in 1807 moved 
to the present site of the Clarendon Hotel, 
situated on the Cumberland Road and hung 
out the Sign of the Orange Tree. Perhaps 
no tavern in the land can claim the honor 
of holding a state legislature within its 
doors, except the Sign of the Orange Tree, 
where, in 1810-12, when Zanesville was the 
temporary capital of Ohio, the legislature 
made its headquarters. 70 The Sign of the 
Rising Sun was another Zanesville tavern, 
opened in 1806, the name being changed 
by a later proprietor, without damage to 

70 The Virginian House of Burgesses met in the old 
Raleigh Tavern at Williamsburg, in 1773. (Woodrow 
Wilson s George Washington, p. 146.) 


its brilliancy, perhaps, to the Sign of the 
Red Lion. The National Hotel was opened 
in 1818 and became a famous hostelry. 
Roger s Hotel is mentioned in many old 
advertisements for bids for making and 
repairing the Cumberland Road. In 1811 
William Burnham opened the Sign of the 
Merino Lamb in a frame building owned 
by General Isaac Van Home. The Sign 
of the Green Tree was opened by John S. 
Dugan in 1817, this being remembered for 
entertaining President Monroe, and Gen 
eral Lewis Cass at a later date. West of 
Zanesville, on the new route opened 
straight westward to Columbus, the famous 
monumental pile of stone, the Five Mile 
House long served its useful purpose beside 
the road and is one of the most impressive 
of its monuments, today. Edward Smith 
and Usal Headley were early tavern-keep 
ers at this point. Henry Winegamer built 
a tavern three miles west of the Five Mile 
House. Henry Hursey built and opened 
the first tavern at Gratiot. These public 
houses west of Zanesville were erected in 
the year preceding the opening of the 
Cumberland Road, which was built through 


the forest in the year i83i. 71 The stages 
which were soon running from Zanesville 
to Columbus, left the uncompleted, line of 
the Cumberland Road at Jacksontown and 
struck across to Newark and followed the 
old road thence to Columbus. The first 
tavern built in Columbus was opened in 
1813, which, in 1816, bore the sign " The 
Lion and the Eagle." After 1817 it was 
known as " The Globe." The Columbus 
Inn and White Horse Tavern were early 
Columbus hotels; Pike s Tavern was 
opened in 1822, and a tavern bearing the 
sign of the Golden Lamb was opened in 
1825. The Neil House was opened in the 
twenties a transfer of it to new owners 
appearing in local papers in 1832. It was 
the headquarters of the Neil, Moore, and 
Company line of stages and the best known 
early tavern in the old coaching days in 
Ohio. Many forgotten taverns in Colum 
bus can be found mentioned in old docu 
ments and papers, including the famous 
American House, Buckeye Hotel, on the 
present site of the Board of Trade building, 

11 For advertisement of sale of a Cumberland Road 
tavern see Appendix D. 


etc. West of Columbus the celebrated 
Four Mile House, which has been referred 
to previously, was erected in the latter half 
of the century. In the days of the great 
mail and stage lines Billy Werden s Tavern 
in Springfield was the leading hostelry in 
western Ohio. At this point the stages 
running to Cincinnati, with mail for the 
Mississippi Valley, left the Cumberland 
Road. Across the state line, Neal s and 
Clawson s Taverns offered hospitality in 
the extreme eastern border of Indiana. At 
Richmond, Starr Tavern (Tremont Hotel), 
Nixon s Tavern, Gilbert s two-story, pebble- 
coated tavern and Bayle s Sign of the 
Green Tree, offered entertainment worthy 
of the road and its great business, while 
Sloan s brick stagehouse accommodated 
the passenger traffic of the stage lines. At 
Indianapolis, the Palmer House, built in 
1837, and Washington Hall, welcomed the 
public of the two great political faiths, 
Democrat and Whig, respectively. 

At almost every mile of the road s long 
length, wagonhouses offered hospitality to 
the hundreds engaged in the great freight 
traffic. Here a large room with its fire- 


place could be found before which to lay 
blankets on a winter s night. The most 
successful wagonhouses were situated at 
the outskirts of the larger towns, where, at 
more reasonable prices and in more con 
genial surroundings than in a crowded city 
inn, the rough sturdy men upon whom the 
whole West depended for over a generation 
for its merchandise, found hospitable enter 
tainment for themselves and their rugged 
horses. These houses were usually unpre 
tentious frame buildings surrounded by a 
commodious yard, and generous watering- 
troughs and barns. A hundred tired horses 
have been heard munching their corn in a 
single wagonhouse yard at the end of a long 
day s work. 

In both tavern and wagonhouse the fire 
place and the bar were always present, 
whatever else might be missing. The fire 
places in the first western taverns were 
notably generous, as the rigorous winters 
of the Alleghenies required. Many of these 
fireplaces were seven feet in length and 
nearly as high, capable of holding, had it 
been necessary, a wagonload of wood. 
With a great fireplace at the end of the 


room, lighting up its darkest corners as no 
candle could, the taverns along the Cum 
berland Road where the stages stopped for 
the night, saw merrier scenes than any of 
their modern counterparts witness. And 
over all their merry gatherings the flames 
from the great fires threw a softened light, 
in which those who remember them best 
seem to bask as they tell us of them. The 
taverns near some of the larger villages, 
Wheeling, Washington, or Uniontown, 
often entertained for a winter s evening, a 
sleighing party from town, to whom the 
great room and its fireplace were surren 
dered for the nonce, where soon lisping 
footsteps and the soft swirl of old-fashioned 
skirts told that the dance was on. 

Beside the old fireplace hung two impor 
tant articles, the flip-iron and the poker. 
The poker used in the old road taverns was 
of a size commensurate with the fireplace, 
often being seven or eight feet long. Each 
landlord was Keeper-of-the-Poker in his 
own tavern, and many were particular that 
none but themselves should touch the 
great fire, which was one of the main feat 
ures of their hospitality, after the quality 


of the food and drink. Eccentric old 
" Boss" Rush in his famous tavern near 
Smithfield (Big Crossings) even kept his 
poker under lock and key. 

The tavern signs so common in New 
England were known only in the earlier 
days of the Cumberland Road as many of 
the tavern names show. The majority of 
the great taverns bore on their signs only 
the name of their proprietor, the earliest 
landlord s name often being used for sev 
eral generations. The advancing of the 
century can be noticed in the origin of such 
names as the National House, the United 
States Hotel, the American House, etc. 
The evolution in nomenclature is, plainly, 
from the sign or symbol to the landlord s 
name, then to a fanciful name. Another 
sign of later days was the building of ver 
andas. The oldest taverns now standing 
are plain ones or the two story buildings 
rising abruptly from the pavement and 
opening directly upon it. Of this type is 
the Brownfield House at Uniontown and 
numerous half -forgotten houses which were 
early taverns in Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

The kitchen of the old inn was an im- 


portant feature, especially as many of the 
taverns were little more than restaurants 
where stage-passengers hastily dined. 
The food provided was of a plain and 
nourishing character, including the famous 
home-cured hams, which Andrew Jackson 
preferred, and the buckwheat cakes, which 
Henry Clay highly extolled. In this con 
nection it should be said that the women of 
the old West were most successful in oper 
ating the old-time taverns, and many of 
the best " stands" were conducted by 
them. The provision made in a license to 
a woman in early New England, that she 
provide a fit man that is godly to manage 
the business," was never suggested in the 
West, where hundreds of brave women 
carried on the business of their husbands 
after their decease. And their heroism 
was appreciated and remembered by the 
gallant aristocracy of the road. 

The old Revolutionary soldiers who, 
quite generally, became the landlords of 
New England, did not keep tavern in the 
West. But one Revolutionary veteran was 
landlord on the Cumberland Road. The 
road bred and brought up its own landlords 


to a large extent. The early landlords 
were fit men to rule in the early taverns, 
and provided from forest and stream the 
larger portion of food for the travelers over 
the first rough roads. It is said that these 
objected to the building of the Cumberland 
Road, through fear that more accelerated 
means of locomotion would eventually 
cheat them out of the business which then 
fell to their share. 

But, like the New England landlord, the 
western tavern-keeper was a many-sided 
man. Had the Cumberland Road taverns 
been located always within villages, their 
proprietors might have become what New 
England landlords are reputed to have 
been, town representatives, councilmen, 
selectmen, tapsters, and heads of the 
Train Band " in fact, next to the town 
clerk in importance. As it was, the west 
ern landlord often filled as important a 
position on the frontier as his eastern coun 
terpart did in New England. This was 
due, in part, to the place which the western 
tavern occupied in society. Taverns were, 
both in the East and in the West, places of 
meeting for almost any business. This 


was particularly true in the West, where 
the public house was almost the only avail 
able place for any gathering whatever 
between the scattered villages. But while 
in the East the landlord was most fre 
quently busy with official duties, the 
western landlord was mostly engaged in 
collateral professions, which rendered him 
of no less value to his community. The 
jovial host at the Cumberland Road tavern 
often worked a large farm, upon which his 
tavern stood. Some of the more prosper 
ous on the eastern half of the road, owned 
slaves who carried on the work of the farm 
and hotel. He sometimes ran a store in 
connection with his tavern, and almost 
without exception, officiated at his bar, 
where he " sold strong waters tp relieve 
the inhabitants. Whiskey, two drinks for 
a fippenny bit, called " ftp " for short 
(value six and a quarter cents) was the 
principal "strong water" in demand. It 
was the pure article, neither diluted nor 
adulterated. In the larger towns of course 
any beverage of the day was kept at the 
taverns sherry toddy, mulled wine, ma 
deira, and cider. 


As has been said, the road bred its own 
landlords. Youths, whose lives began 
simultaneously with that of the great road, 
worked upon its curved bed in their teens, 
became teamsters and contractors in middle 
life, and spent the autumn of their lives as 
landlords of its taverns, purchased with 
the money earned in working upon it. 
Several well-known landlords were promi 
nent contractors, many of whom owned 
their share of the great six- and eight- 
horse teams which hauled freight to the 
western rivers. 

The old taverns were the hearts of the 
Cumberland Road, and the tavern life was 
the best gauge to measure the current of 
business that ebbed and flowed. As the 
great road became superseded by the rail 
ways, the taverns were the first to succumb 
to the shock. In a very interesting article, 
a recent writer on " The Rise of the Tide 
of Life to New England Hilltops," r2 speaks 
of the early hill life of New England, and 
the memorials there left " of the deep and 
sweeping streams of human history." The 

72 Mr. Edward P. Pressey in New England Maga- 
zine,\vo\. xxii, no. 6 (August, 1900). 


author would have found the Cumberland 
Road and its predecessors an interesting 
western example of the social phenomena 
with which he dealt. In New England, 
as in the Central West, the first traveled 
courses were on the summits of the water 
sheds. These routes of the brute were the 
first ways of men. The tide of life has 
ebbed from New England hilltops since the 
beginning. Sufficient is it for the present 
subject that the Cumberland Road was the 
most important stream of human history " 
from Atlantic tide-water to the headwaters 
of the streams of the Mississippi. Its old 
taverns are, after the remnants of the his 
toric roadbed and ponderous bridges, the 
most interesting " shells and fossils" cast 
up by this stream. This old route, chosen 
first by the buffalo and followed by red men 
and white men, will ever be the course of 
travel across the mountains. From this 
rugged path made by the once famous Cum 
berland Road, the tide of life cannot ebb. 
Here, a thousand years hence, may course 
a magnificent boulevard, the American 
Appian Way, to the commercial, as well as 
military, key of the eastern slopes of the 


Mississippi Basin at the junction of the 
Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. It is 
important that each fact of history concern 
ing this ancient highway be put on lasting 



IT is impossible to leave the study of the 
Cumberland Road without gathering 
up into a single chapter a number of 
threads which have not been woven into 
the preceding record. And first, the very 
appearance of the old road as seen by trav 
elers who pass over it today. One cannot 
go a single mile over it withotit becoming 
deeply impressed with the evidence of the 
age and the individuality of the old Cum 
berland Road. There is nothing like it in 
the United States. Leaping the Ohio at 
Wheeling, the Cumberland Road throws 
itself across Ohio and Indiana, straight as 
an arrow, like an ancient elevated pathway 
of the gods, chopping hills in twain at a 
blow, traversing the lowlands on high 
grades like a railroad bed, vaulting river 
and stream on massive bridges of unparal 
leled size. The farther one travels upon 


it, the more impressed one must become, 
for there is, in the long grades and stretches 
and ponderous bridges, that " masterful 
suggestion of a serious purpose, speeding 
you along with a strange uplifting of the 
heart," of which Kenneth Grahame speaks; 
" and even in its shedding off of bank and 
hedgerow as it marched straight and full 
for the open downs, it seems to declare its 
contempt for adventitious trappings to catch 
the shallow-pated." 73 For long distances, 
this road " of the sterner sort " will be, so 
far as its immediate surface is concerned, 
what the tender mercies of the counties 
through which it passes will allow, but at 
certain points, the traveler comes out unex 
pectedly upon the ancient roadbed, for in 
many places the old macadamized bed is 
still doing noble duty. 

Nothing is more striking than the pon 
derous stone bridges which carry the road 
bed over the waterways. It is doubtful if 
there are on this continent such monu 
mental relics of the old stone bridge build 
ers art. Not only such massive bridges 
as those at Big Crossings (Smithfield, Penn- 

73 Grahame s The Golden Age, p. 155. 


sylvania) and the artistic S " bridge near 
Claysville, Pennsylvania, will attract the 
traveler s attention, but many of the less 
pretentious bridges over brooks and rivulets 
will, upon examination, be found to be 
ponderous pieces of workmanship. A preg 
nant suggestion of the change which has 
come over the land can be read in certain 
of these smaller bridges and culverts. 
When the great road was built the land was 
covered with forests and many drains were 
necessary. With the passing of the forests 
many large bridges, formerly of much 
importance, are now of a size out of all 
proportion to the demand for them, and 
hundreds of little bridges have fallen into 
disuse, some of them being quite above the 
general level of the surrounding fields. 
The ponderous bridge at Big Crossings was 
finished and dedicated with great 6clat July 
4, 1818. Near the eastern end of the three 
fine arches is the following inscription: 
" Kinkead, Beck & Evans, builders, July 
4, 1818." 

The traveler will notice still the mile- 
posts which mark the great road s successive 
steps. Those on the eastern portion of the 


road are of iron and were made at the 
foundries at Connellsville and Brownsville. 
Major James Francis had the contract for 
making and delivering those between Cum 
berland and Brownsville. John Snowdan 
had the contract for those between Browns 
ville and Wheeling. They were hauled in 
six-horse teams to their sites. Those 
between Brownsville and Cumberland have 
recently been reset and repainted. The 
milestones west of the Ohio River are 
mostly of sandstone, and are fast disappear 
ing under the action of the weather. Some 
are quite illegible though the word Cum 
berland at the top can yet be read on 
almost all. In central Ohio, through the 
Darby woods, or il Darby Cuttings," the 
mileposts have been greatly mutilated by 
vandal woodchoppers, who knocked off 
large chips with which to sharpen their 

The bed of the Cumberland Road was 
originally eighty feet in width. In Ohio at 
least, property owners have encroached upon 
the road until, in some places, ten feet of 
ground has been included within the fences. 
This matter has been brought into notice 


where franchises for electric railway lines 
have been granted. In Franklin County, 
west of Columbus, Ohio, there is hardly 
room for a standard gauge track outside 
the roadbed, where once the road occupied 
forty feet each side of its axis. When the 
property owners were addressed with 
respect to the removal of their fences, they 
demanded to be shown quitclaim deeds for 
the land, which, it is unnecessary to say, 
were not forthcoming from the state. Hun 
dreds of contracts, calling for a width of 
eighty feet, can be given as evidence of the 
original width of the road. 74 In days when 
it was considered the most extraordinary 
good fortune to have the Cumberland Road 
pass through one s farm, it was not consid 
ered necessary to obtain quitclaim deeds 
for the land. 

It is difficult to sufficiently emphasize the 
aristocracy which existed among the old 
" pike boys," as those most intimately con 
nected with the road were called. This 
was particularly true of the drivers of the 

74 " The proper limits of the road are hereby defined 
to be a space of eighty feet in width forty feet on 
each side of the center of the graded road-bed." Law 
passed April 18, 1870, Laws of Ohio, LVIII, p. 140. 


mail and passenger stages, men who were 
as often noted for their quick wit and large 
acquaintance with men as for their dex 
terous handling of two hands full of reins. 
Their social and business position was the 
envy of the youth of a nation, whose 
ambition to emulate them was begotten of 
the best sort of hero-worship. Stage- 
drivers foibles were their pet themes, such 
as the use of peculiar kinds of whips and 
various modes of driving. Of the latter 
there were three styles common to the 
Cumberland Road, (i) The flat rein (Eng 
lish style), (2) Top and bottom (Pennsyl 
vania adaptation), (3) Side rein (Eastern 
style). The last mode was in commonest 
use. Of drivers there were of course all 
kinds, slovenly, cruel, careful. Of the best 
class, John Bunting, Jim Reynolds, and 
Billy Armor were best known, after " Red " 
Bunting, in the east, and David Gordon 
and James Burr, on the western division. 
No one was more proud of the fine horses 
which did the work of the great road than 
the better class of drivers. As Thackeray 
said was true in England, the passing of 
the era of good roads and the mailstage has 


sounded the knell of the rugged race of horses 
which once did service in the Central West. 
As one scans the old files of newspapers, 
or reads old-time letters and memoirs of 
the age of the Cumberland Road, he is 
impressed with the interest taken in the 
coming and going of the more renowned 
guests of the old road. The passage of a 
president-elect over the Cumberland Road 
was a triumphant procession. The stage 
Accompanies made special stages, or selected 
the best of their stock, in which to bear 
him. The best horses were fed and 
groomed for the proud task. The most 
noted drivers were appointed to the honor 
able station of Charioteer-to-the-President. 
The thousands of homes along his route 
were decked in his honor, and welcoming 
heralds rode out from the larger towns to 
escort their noted guests to celebrations for 
which preparations had been making for 
days in advance. The slow-moving presi 
dential pageant through Ohio and Pennsyl 
vania was an educational and patriotic 
ceremony, of not infrequent occurrence in 
the old coaching days a worthy exhibition 
which hardly has its counterpart in these 


days of steam. Jackson, Van Buren, Mon 
roe, Harrison, Polk, and Tyler passed in 
triumph over portions of the great road. 
The taverns at which they were feted are 
remembered by the fact. Drivers who 
were chosen for the task of driving their 
coach were ever after noted men. But 
there were other guests than presidents- 
elect, though none received with more 
acclaim. Henry Clay, the champion of the 
road, was a great favorite throughout its 
towns and hamlets, one of which, Clays- 
ville, proudly perpetuates his name. 
Benton and Cass, General Lafayette, Gen 
eral Santa Anna, Black Hawk, Jenny Lind, 
P. T. Barnum, and John Quincy Adams 
are all mentioned in the records of the 
stirring days of the old road. As has been 
suggested elsewhere, politics entered 
largely into the consideration of the build 
ing and maintenance of the road. Enemies 
of internal improvement were not forgotten 
as they passed along the great road which 
they voted to neglect, as even Martin Van 
Buren once realized when the axle of his 
coach was sawed in two, breaking down 
where the mud was deepest. Many 


episodes are remembered, indicating that 
all the political prejudice and rancor known 
elsewhere was especially in evidence on 
this highway, which owed its existence 
and future to the machinations of politicians. 
But the greatest blessing of the Cumber 
land Road was the splendid era of growth 
which it did its share toward hastening. 
Its best friends could see in its decline and 
decay only evidences of unhappiest fortune, 
while in reality the great road had done its 
noble work and was to be superseded by 
better things which owed to it their com 
ing. Historic roads there had been, before 
this great highway of America was built, 
but none in all the past had been the means 
of supplanting themselves by greater and 
more efficient means of communication. 
The far-famed Appian Way witnessed 
many triumphal processions of consuls and 
proconsuls, but it never was the means of 
bringing into existence something to take 
its place in a new and more progressive 
era. It helped to create no free empire at 
its extremity, and they who traversed it 
in so much pride and power would find it 
today nothing but a ponderous memorial 


of their vanity. The Cumberland Road 
was built by the people and for the people, 
and served well its high purpose. It 
became a highway for the products of the 
factories, the fisheries and the commerce 
of the eastern states. It made possible 
that interchange of the courtesies of social 
life necessary in a republic of united states. 
It was one of the great strands which 
bound the nation together in early days 
when there was much to excite animosity 
and provoke disunion. It became the pride 
of New England as well as of the West 
which it more immediately benefited; 
" The state of which I am a citizen," said 
Edward Everett at Lexington, Kentucky, 
in 1829, " has already paid between one 
and two thousand dollars toward the con 
struction and repair of that road; and I 
doubt not she is prepared to contribute her 
proportion toward its extension to the place 
of its destination." 75 

Hundreds of ancient but unpretentious 
monuments of the Cumberland Road the 
hoary milestones which line it stand to 
perpetuate its name in future days. But 

75 Everett s Speeches and Orations, vol. i, p. 202. 


were they all gathered together from 
Indiana and Ohio and Pennsylvania and 
Virginia and Maryland and cemented into 
a monstrous pyramid, the pile would not be 
inappropriate to preserve the name and fame 
of a highway which carried thousands of 
population and millions of wealth into the 
West; and more than any other material 
structure in the land, served to harmonize 
and strengthen, if not save, the Union." 
What of the future? The dawning of 
the era of country living is in sight. It is 
being hastened by the revolution in meth 
ods of locomotion. The bicycle and auto 
mobile presage an era of good roads, and 
of an unparalleled countryward movement 
of society. With this era is coming the 
revival of inn and tavern life, the rejuvena 
tion of a thousand ancient highways and 
all the happy life that was ever known 
along their dusty stretches. By its position 
with reference to the national capital, and 
the military and commercial key of the 
Central West, Pittsburg, and both of the 
great cities of Ohio, the Cumberland Road 
will become, perhaps, the foremost of the 
great roadways of America. The bed is 


capable of being made substantial at a 
comparatively small cost, as the grading is 
quite perfect. Its course measures the 
shortest possible route practicable for a 
roadway from tidewater to the Mississippi 
River. As a trunk line its location cannot 
be surpassed. Its historic associations will 
render the .route of increasing interest to 
the thousands who, in other days, will 
travel, in the genuine sense of the word, 
over those portions of its length which long 
ago became hallowed ground. The 
Shades of Death will again be rilled 
with the echoing horn which heralded the 
arrival of the old-time coaches, and Wind 
ing Ridge again be crowded with the traffic 
of a nation. A hundred Cumberland Road 
taverns will be opened, and bustling land 
lords welcome, as of yore, the travel- 
stained visitor. Merry parties will again 
fill those tavern halls, now long silent, 
with their laughter. 

And all this will but mark a new and 
better era than its predecessor, an era of 
outdoor living, which must come, and come 
quickly, if as a nation we are to retain our 
present hold on the world s great affairs. 




i. Act of March 29, 1806, authorizes the 
President to appoint a commission of three 
citizens to lay out a road four rods in 
width from Cumberland or a point on the 
northern bank of the river Potomac in the 
State of Maryland, between Cumberland 
and the place where the main road leading 
from Gwynn s to Winchester, in Virginia, 
crosses the river, . . to strike the river 
Ohio at the most convenient place between 
a point on its eastern bank, opposite the 
northern boundary of Steubenville and the 
mouth of Grave creek, which empties into 
the said river a little below Wheeling, in 
Virginia." Provides for obtaining the 
consent of the states through which the 
road passes, and appropriates for the 
expense, to be paid from the reserve fund 
under the act of April 30, 1802, $30,000.00 


2. Act of February 14, 1810, appropri 
ates to be expended under the direction of 
the President in making the road between 
Cumberland and Brownsville, to be paid 
from fund act of April 30, 1802, $60,000.00 

3. Act of March 3, 1811, appropriates 
to be expended under the direction of the 
President in making the road between 
Cumberland and Brownsville, and autho 
rizes the President to permit deviation from 
a line established by the commissioners 
under the original act as may be expedient ; 
Provided, that no deviation shall be made 
from the principal points established on 
said road between Cumberland and Browns 
ville; to be paid from fund act of April 
30, 1802 .... $50,000.00 

4. Act of February 26, 1812, appropri 
ates balance of a former appropriation not 
used, but carried to surplus fund, $3,786.60 

5. Act of May 6, 1812, appropriates to 
be expended under direction of the Presi 
dent, for making the road from Cumberland 
to Brownsville, to be paid from fund act of 
April 30, 1802 . . $30,000.00 

6. Act of March 3, 1813 (General Ap 
propriation Bill), appropriates for making 


the road from Cumberland to the state of 
Ohio, to be paid from fund act of April 30, 
1802 $140,000.00 

7. Act of February 14, 1815, appropri 
ates to be expended under the direction of 
the President, for making the road between 
Cumberland and Brownsville, to be paid 
from fund act of April 30, 1802, $100,000.00 

8. Act of April 16, 1816 (General Ap 
propriation Bill), appropriates for making 
the road from Cumberland to the state of 
Ohio, to be paid from the fund act April 
30, 1802 .... $300,000.00 

9. Act of April 14, 1818, appropriates to 
meet claims due and unpaid . $52,984.60 

Demands under existing con 
tracts .... $260,000.00 
(From money in the treasury not other 
wise appropriated.) 

10. Act of March 3, 1819, appropriates 
for existing claims and contracts $250,000.00 

Completing road . . $285,000.00 
(To be paid from reserved funds, acts 
admitting Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.) 

n. Act of May 15, 1820, appropriates 
for laying out the road between Wheeling, 
Virginia, and a point on the left bank of 


the Mississippi River, between St. Louis 
and the mouth of the Illinois River, road 
to be eighty feet wide and on a straight 
line, and authorizes the President to appoint 
commissioners. To be paid out of any 
money in the treasury not otherwise appro 
priated .... $10,000.00 

12. Act of April ii, 1820, appropriates 
for completing contract for road from 
Washington, Pennsylvania, to Wheeling, 
out of any money in the treasury not other 
wise appropriated . . . $141,000.00 

13. Act of February 28, 1823, appropri 
ates for repairs between Cumberland and 
Wheeling, and authorizes the President to 
appoint a superintendent at a compensa 
tion of three dollars per day. To be paid 
out of any money not otherwise appro 
priated .... $25,000.00 

14. Act of March 3, 1825, appropriates 
for opening and making a road from the 
town of Canton, in the state of Ohio, oppo 
site Wheeling, to Zanesville, and for the 
completion of the surveys of the road, 
directed to be made by the act of May 15, 
1820, and orders its extension to the per 
manent seat of government of Missouri, and 


to pass by the seats of government of Ohio, 
Indiana and Illinois, said road to commence 
at Zanesville, Ohio; also authorizes the 
appointment of a superintendent by the 
President, at a salary of fifteen hundred 
dollars per annum, who shall make all con 
tracts, receive and disburse all moneys, 
etc. ; also authorizes the appointment of 
one commissioner, who shall have power 
according to provisions of the act of May 
15, 1820; ten thousand dollars of the money 
appropriated by this act is to be expended 
in completing the survey mentioned. The 
whole sum appropriated to be advanced 
from moneys not otherwise appropriated, 
and replaced from reserve fund provided in 
acts admitting Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and 
Missouri .... $150,000.00 

15. Act of March 14, 1826 (General Ap 
propriation Bill), appropriates for balance 
due to the superintendent, $3,000; assist 
ant superintendent, $158.90; contractor, 
$252.13 ... $3,411.03 

1 6. Act of March 25, 1826 (Military 
Service), appropriates for the continuation 
of the Cumberland Road during the year 
1825 $110,749,00 


17. Act of March 2, 1827 (Military Ser 
vice), appropriates for construction of road 
from Canton to Zanesville, and continuing 
and completing the survey from Zanesville 
to the seat of government of Missouri, to 
be paid from reserve fund, provided in acts 
admitting Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Mis 
souri $170,000.00 

For balance due superintendent, from 
moneys not otherwise appropriated, $5 10.00 

1 8. Act of March 2, 1827, appropriates 
for repairs between Cumberland and 
Wheeling, and authorizes the appointment 
of a superintendent of repairs, at a com 
pensation to be fixed by the President. 
To be paid from moneys not otherwise 
appropriated. The language of this act is : 
" For repairing the public road from Cum 
berland to Wheeling " . . $30,000.00 

19. Act of May 19, 1828, appropriates 
for the completion of the road to Zanesville, 
Ohio, to be paid from fund provided in acts 
admitting Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Mis 
souri $175,000.00 

20. Act of March 2, 1829, appropriates 
for opening road westwardly, from Zanes 
ville, Ohio, to be paid from fund provided 


in acts admitting Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, 
and Missouri .... $100,000.00 

21. Act of March 2, 1829, appropriates 
for opening road eighty feet wide in Indi 
ana, east and west from Indianapolis, and 
to appoint two superintendents, at eight 
hundred dollars each per annum, to be paid 
from fund provided in acts admitting Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, $51,600.00 

22. Act of March 3, 1829, appropriates 
for repairing bridges, etc., on road east of 
Wheeling .... $100,000.00 

23. Act of May 31, 1830 (Internal Im 
provements), appropriates for opening and 
grading road west of Zanesville, Ohio, 
$100,000; for opening and grading road in 
Indiana, $60,000; commencing at Indian 
apolis, and progressing with the work to the 

eastern and western boundaries of said 

state; for opening, grading, etc., in Illinois, 
$40,000, to be paid from reserve fund pro 
vided in acts admitting Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, and Missouri ; for claims due and 
remaining unpaid on account of road east 
of Wheeling, $15,000; to be paid from 
moneys in the treasury not otherwise 
appropriated .... $215,000.00 


24. Act of March 2, 1831, appropriates 
$100,000 for opening-, grading, and so forth, 
west of Zanesville, Ohio; $950 for repairs 
during the year 1830; $2,700 for work 
heretofore done east of Zanesville; $265.85 
for arrearages for the survey from Zanes 
ville to the capital of Missouri; jid $75,000 
for opening, grading, and so forth, in the 
state of Indiana, including bridge over 
White River, near Indianapolis, and pro 
gressing to eastern and western boundaries ; 
$66,000 for opening, grading and bridging 
in Illinois ; to be paid from the fund pro 
vided in acts admitting Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, and Missouri . . $244,915.85 

25. Act of July 3, 1832, appropriates 
$150,000 for repairs east of the Ohio River; 
$100,000 for continuing the road west of 
Zanesville; $100,000 for continuing the 
road in Indiana, including bridge over east 
and west branch of White River; $70,000 
for continuing road in Illinois ; to be paid 
from the fund provided in acts admitting 
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois . $420,000.00 

26. Act of March 2, 1833, appropriates 
to carry on certain improvements east of 
the Ohio River, $125,000; in Ohio, west 


of Zanesville, $130,000; in Indiana, 
$100,000; in Illinois, $70,000; and in Vir 
ginia, $34,440 . . . $459,440.00 

27. Act of June 24, 1834, appropriates 
$200,000 for continuing the road in Ohio; 
$150,000 for continuing the road in Indi 
ana; $100,000 for continuing the road in 
Illinois, and $300,000 for the entire com 
pletion of repairs east of Ohio, to meet 
provisions of the acts of Pennsylvania 
(April 4, 1831), Maryland (Jan. 23, 1832), 
and Virginia (Feb. 7, 1832), accepting the 
road surrendered to the states, the United 
States not thereafter to be subject to any 
expense for repairs. Places engineer officer 
of army in control of road through Indiana 
and Illinois, and in charge of all appropria 
tions ; $300,000 to be paid out of any money 
in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, 
balance from that provided in acts admit 
ting Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, $750,000.00 

28. Act of June 2 7, 1837 (General Appro 
priation), for arrearages due to the con 
tractors $1,609.36 

29. Act of March 3, 1835, appropriates 
$200,000 for continuing the road in the 
state of Ohio; $100,000 for continuing road 


in the state of Indiana; to be out of fund 
provided in acts admitting Ohio, Indiana 
and Illinois, and $346,186.58 for the entire 
completion of repairs in Maryland, Penn 
sylvania and Virginia ; but before any part 
of this sum can be expended east of the 
Ohio River, the road shall be surrendered 
to and accepted by the states through which 
it passes, and the United States shall not 
thereafter be subject to any expense in 
relation to said road. Out of any money 
in the Treasury not otherwise appropri 
ated $646,186.58 

30. Act of March 3, 1835 (Repair of 
Roads), appropriates to pay for work hereto 
fore done by Isaiah Frost on the Cumber 
land Road, $320; to pay late superintendent 
of road a salary, $862.8; . . $1,182.87 

31. Act of July 2, 1836, appropriates for 
continuing the road in Ohio, $200,000; for 
continuing road in Indiana, $250,000, 
including materials for a bridge over the 
Wabash River; $150,000 for continuing the 
road in Illinois, provided that the appropri 
ation for Illinois shall be limited to grading 
and bridging, and shall not be construed as 
pledging Congress to future appropriations 


for the purpose of macadamizing the road, 
and the moneys herein appropriated for 
said road in Ohio and Indiana must be 
expended in completing the greatest pos 
sible continuous portion of said road in said 
states so that said finished part thereof may 
be surrendered to the states respectively ; 
to be paid from fund provided in acts 
admitting Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and 

Missouri $600,000.00 

32. Act of March 3, 1837, appropriates 
$190,000 for continuing the road in Ohio; 
$100,000 for continuing the road in Indiana; 
$100,000 for continuing the road in Illinois, 
provided the road in Illinois shall not be 
stoned or graveled, unless it can be done at 
a cost not greater than the average cost of 
stoning and graveling the road in Ohio and 
Indiana, and provided that in all cases 
where it can be done the work to be laid 
off in sections and let to the lowest sub 
stantial bidder. Sec. 2 of the act provides 
that Sec. 2 of act of July 2, 1836, shall not 
be applicable to expenditures hereafter 
made on the road, and $7,183.63 is appro 
priated by this act for repairs east of the 
Ohio River ; to be paid from fund provided 


in acts admitting Ohio, Indiana, and Illi 
nois $397,183.63 

33. Act of May 25, 1838, appropriates 
for continuing the road in Ohio, $150,000; 
for continuing it in Indiana, including 
bridges, $150,000; for continuing it in Illi 
nois, $9,000; for the completion of a bridge 
over Dunlap s Creek at Brownsville; to be 
paid from moneys in the Treasury not 
otherwise appropriated and subject to pro 
visions and conditions of act of March 3, 
1837 $459,000.00 

34. Act of June 17, 1844 (Civil and 
Diplomatic), appropriates for arrearages on 
account of survey to Jefferson, Mis 
souri $1,359.81 

Total .... $6,824,919.33 



Sealed proposals will be received at Toll- 
gate No. 4, until the 6th day of March 
next, for repairing that part of the road 
lying between the beginning of the 23rd 
and end of the 42nd mile, and if suitable 
bids are obtained, and not otherwise, con 
tracts will be made at Bradshaw s hotel in 
Fairview, on the 8th. Those who desire 
contracts are expected to attend in person, 
in order to sign their bonds. On this 
part of the road three hundred rods or 
upwards (82 y 2 cubic feet each) will be 
required on each mile, of the best quality 
of limestone, broken evenly into blocks not 
exceeding four ounces in weight, each ; and 
specimens of the material proposed, must 
be furnished, in quantity not less than six 
cubic inches, broken and neatly put up in 


a box, and accompanying each bid ; which 
will be returned and taken as the standard, 
both as regards the quality of the mate 
rial and the preparation of it at the time of 
measurement and inspection. 

The following conditions will be mutu 
ally understood as entering into, and 
forming a part of the contract, namely: 
The 23, 24 and 25 miles to be ready for 
measurement and inspection on the 25th 
of July; the 26, 27 and 28 miles on the ist 
of August; the 29, 30 and 31 miles on the 
1 5th of August; the 32, 33 and 34 miles on 
the ist of September; the 35, 36, 37 miles 
on the 1 5th of September; the 38, 39 and 40 
miles on the ist of October; and the 41 and 
42 miles, if let, will be examined at the 
same time. 

Any failure to be ready for inspection at 
the time above specified, will incur a pen 
alty of five per cent, for every two days 
delay, until the whole penalty shall amount 
to 25 per cent, on the contract paid. All 
the piles must be neatly put up for measure 
ment and no pile will be measured on this 
part of the work containing less than five 
rods. Whenever a pile is placed upon 


deceptive ground, whether discovered at the 
time of measurement or afterward, half its 
contents shall in every case be forfeited for 
the use of the road. 

Proposals will also be received at the 
American Hotel in Columbus, on the i$th 
of March for hauling broken materials from 
the penitentiary east of Columbus. Bids 
are solicited on the i, 2 and 3 miles count 
ing from a point near the Toll-gate towards 
the city. Bids will also be received at the 
same time and place, for collecting and 
breaking all the old stone that lies along 
the roadside, between Columbus and Kirk- 
ersville, neatly put in piles of not less than 
two rods, and placed on the outside of the 



Proposals will also be received in Zanes- 
ville on Monday, the ist day of May next, 
at Roger s Tavern, for rebuilding the 
Bridge over Salt Creek, nine miles east of 
Zanesville. The structure will be of wood, 
except some stone work to repair the abut 
ments. A plan of the Bridge, together 
with a bill for the timber, &c., can be seen 
at the place of letting after the 24th inst. 
Conditions with regard to proposals the 
same as above. 

At the same time and place, proposals 
will likewise be received, for building three 
or four Toll-gates and Gate Houses between 
Hebron, east of Columbus, and Jefferson, 
west of it. The house of frame with stone 
foundations, and about 13 by 24 feet, one 
story high, and completely finished. Bills 


of timber, stone, &c., will be furnished, 
and particulars made known, by calling on 
the undersigned, at Rodger s Tavern, in 
Zanesville after the 24th inst. In making 
bids, conditions the same as above. 

All letters must be post-paid, or no 
attention shall be given to them. 

THOMAS M. DRAKE, Superintendent. 

P. S. Proposals will also be received at 
Columbus, on Monday, the i;th of April, 
for repairing the National Road between 
Kirkersville and Columbus by William 
B. Vanhook, superintendent. 

April 12. 




Tavern Stand for Sale or Rent. A 
valuable Tavern Stand Sign of the Harp, 
consisting of 25^ acres of choice land partly 
improved, and a dwelling house, together 
with three front lots. This eligible and 
healthy situation lies 8 miles east of Colum 
bus City, the capital of Ohio, on the 
National Road leading to Zanesville, at 
Big Walnut Bridge. The stand is well 
supplied with several elegant springs. 

It is unnecessary to comment on the 
numerous advantages of this interesting 
site. The thoroughfare is great, and the 
growing prospects beyond calculation. 
For particulars inquire of 

T. ARMSTRONG, Hibernia. 

Dec. 4-14. 


TO* 202 Main Library 










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FORM NO. DD6, 60m, 1/83 BERKELEY, CA 94720